NEIL LENNON lay some of the blame for Celtic’s Champions League exit at blunder Bhoy Boli Bolingoli’s inexplicable Spanish trip.
The Belgian’s secret journey to the high-risk country and his subsequent return while ignoring self-isolation guidelines wrecked the Hoops’ early-season programme.
Premiership games due against St Mirren in Paisley on Wednesday, August 12 and Aberdeen at Parkhead the following weekend were both cancelled as a consequence of the actions of the left-back who has just moved to Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir on a season-long loan deal.
Lennon reckons missing two back-to-matches at a crucial stage of the campaign was a major contributory factor in the 2-1 defeat from unseeded Ferencavros in Glasgow and the end of the dream of the lucrative group stages for the third consecutive season.
The players lacked match sharpness against the Hungarians and paid a heavy price with a potential £30million being wiped from the Parkhead coffers.
The Hoops boss, speaking to The Herald, said: “It was very disruptive to our plans and our preparations.
“We missed out on two games that, one, would have maybe put us in a better position than we found ourselves in the league, and two, we would have been two games fitter.
“The players would have had two more games in their legs and we would have been up to speed more.”
Commenting on how those games against the Saints and Dons would have assisted the Champions League bid, Lennon said: “Of course, it could have. It would have been a huge benefit going into those games and that’s what we had planned for.
“What happened was totally unforeseen, it could have been avoided, but to lose out on those two games was a massive disruption to what we were doing.
“We went into the Ferencvaros game undercooked and hadn’t played a game in 10 days. It’s done and he has made a mistake. He’s a human being, it’s a human error and it cost us at the time.
“It was a couple of games we are now endeavouring to make up.”
Speaking of Bolingoli, who arrived on a £3million transfer from Vienna Rapid the previous summer, Lennon, who is preparing his troops for tonight’s game in Paisley, added: “He has a new challenge now in his career, a loan with an option to buy.
“I never got the chance to see him, because of what’s going on. But obviously we will be keeping an eye on his progress.”
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