CELTIC welcome back competitive football at the weekend after an enforced absence of action for almost five months.
The champions face Hamilton Accies at Parkhead on Sunday as they kick off their bid for a historic tenth successive title.
Neil Lennon’s men’s last appearance in the east end of Glasgow was on March 7 when they thumped St Mirren 5-0 with Leigh Griffiths claiming a hat-trick and Odsonne Edouard, with his 28th goal of the season, and Callum McGregor, with a late penalty-kick, getting on the scoresheet.
Football went into lockdown a few days later due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Hoops will come out of hibernation to take on Brian Rice’s Accies outfit who made life difficult for the home side the last time they played at the venue in December.
It was heading for a 1-1 stalemate after the Lanarkshire club had levelled in the last minute, but Scott Brown played a captain’s part by sliding in the stoppage-time winner.
Boss Lennon hopes his players don’t leave it so late on this occasion and, speaking to the Celtic website, said: “It’s exciting and the anticipation is building now. It’s been a long time since we’ve had competitive football. We’ve done a lot of work since the middle of June and it’s been a good week so far.
“We’ve not really touched on the magnitude of this season yet, but we’ll probably touch upon it in the next 24 hours. There have been a lot of other things going on, but now we have to get back to work on what’s expected of us, in order to accomplish what we want.
“We’re going into a historic season, but we can’t let that get away from the day-to-day work and the standards and values that the club has set over the last few years.”
Lennon accepted playing at an empty ground will bring its own peculiar problems and added: “We’re going to have to adapt and adapt quickly to no crowds and getting used to that lack of atmosphere. We have to approach every game as we have done in the past.
“Hamilton might take the lack of home fans as an advantage, but they still need to play our team. What I expect from Hamilton is good energy, well-drilled, well-organised and well-coached. They gave us a couple of really tough games last season. We won away 1-0 and we scored late at Celtic Park in December.
“We’re under no illusions that they might come and try and catch us cold. We have to be right on it.”