Date: 22nd October 2020 at 7:30am
Written by:

Neil Lennon has discussed the impact that the pandemic has had on his squad.

Before the international break Celtic hadn’t returned any positive tests but over the last month have had to deal with the absence of Odsonne Edouard, Nir Bitton and Hatem Abd Elhamed.

The common perception is that healthy young men take a 10 or 14 day break, working out at home, making the most of a breather in their heavy schedule then pick up where they left off.

Celtic have discovered the reality of the pandemic with three players being nursed back to health with a variety of symptoms after self-isolation.

None of those three players will be involved tonight against AC Milan with Lennon telling the Daily Record about the detailed process that Edouard is currently going through:

He’s doing various fitness tests, particularly on his heart rate levels, before we can even consider him returning to training. At the minute he’s working up until he reaches about 70-80 percent of his maximum heart rate.

We’ll look to build on that over the next couple of days. He won’t be available for the Milan game but there is a possibility he may be okay for the Aberdeen game at the weekend.

I’m not going to rush anyone back. This is a disease and we don’t know what the after-effects can be from one individual to the next. Yes, players are fit and healthy young men but it can affect in many different ways.

We are taking the utmost care and giving the utmost attention to each and every one of them. I spoke to Nir when he was isolating and he was pretty floored and had lost his sense of taste and smell.

He was in today, and had a bit of testing and a walk around the grounds just to get some fresh air, but again we will have to assess him as we go along. They are human beings at the end of the day. They are open to illness.

This virus has damaged the world, not just in football or in Scotland. It really comes close to home when you have a couple of players that you care for and are suffering like that.

It was great to see him back. Hopefully we will get him back into the routine of things but again I’m not going to gamble with anything. We are just going to make sure everything’s right before we do.

Ryan Christie is available for tonight’s match but going by the testing that Edouard is undergoing next Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen looks a more likely return date that this weekend Pittodrie clash.