THIRTEEN Celtic players have been ordered to self-isolate after Christopher Jullien tested positive for Covid-19 following the ill-fated trip to Dubai last week.
Three backroom staff – Neil Lennon and assistant John Kennedy are two of them – must also go into quarantine after a devastating blow to the champions.
Celtic’s rearranged Premiership fixture with Hibs at Parkhead WILL go ahead, the club have insisted. Gavin Strachan is expected to be in charge.
The Hoops spent five days in the United Arab Emirates city going through warm-weather training last week before returning on Friday.
One player – unidentified at the time – tested positive yesterday, as CQN reported.
Since the squad flew out a week last Saturday, the Scottish Government have asked anyone who travelled to the country from that destination since January 3 to isolate for 10 days.
Celtic are also due to play in-form Livingston in Glasgow on Saturday.
A club statement said: “Celtic Football Club confirmed today that Christopher Jullien has tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating at home. We wish Christopher a speedy recovery.
“While all of the other members of the squad and backroom team have tested negative, we have been informed by the authorities that, having been deemed ‘close contacts’, Celtic manager Neil Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players will be required to self-isolate on a precautionary basis as required by the current regulations.
“The Club would like to thank the Scottish FA, JRG and the Scottish Government for their assistance in managing this case. Celtic will, of course, fulfil its fixture against Hibernian this evening
“Clearly we are hugely disappointed, as we know our supporters will be. The contacts were identified during the period from Wednesday last week, primarily around flight and team coach travel, during which time Celtic applied the same rigorous protocols used for pre-season training camps, UEFA match travel and for all domestic match arrangements in Scotland.
“These protocols have served us well in the past, as the Club has not had one positive case in our own ‘bubble’ until now. As we have already stated, Celtic’s decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp was for performance reasons. Whilst we were in Dubai, the announcements made on January 4 significantly changed the COVID landscape.
“The reality is that a case could well have occurred had the team remained in Scotland, as other cases have done in Scottish football and across UK sport in the past week.
“Celtic has done everything it can to ensure we have in place the very best procedures and protocols. From the outset of the pandemic, Celtic has worked closely with the Scottish Government and Scottish football and we will continue to do so.”
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Hibs this evening – only in your champion CQN.