To play or not to play seems to be the question exercising minds as Scottish football deals with outbreaks of Covid-19 in its domain. Alas, poor St Mirren, Neil Lennon says of the Paisley club his Celtic side will take on on Wednesday evening over the fact they were forced to face Hibernian despite the loss of their three senior goalkeepers because of quarantine rules as a result of Jak Alwnick contracting the virus. Yet, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune must not be allowed to floor the Scottish game, he maintains.
Parallels have been drawn between St Mirren being refused a postponement and Celtic last month not fulfilling the fixture in Paisley that was rescheduled for Wednesday and a home game against Aberdeen that followed. These games were called off as a consequence of Boli Bolingoli failing to isolate following an unsanctioned overnight trip to Spain. However, the scenarios could not be more contrasting. Celtic, unlike St Mirren, wanted to play the two matches, but the Scottish government decided otherwise.
Such inconsistencies will frame a difficult season. Lennon, who expressed his hope of a speedy recovery for the three Hamilton staff that yesterday were confirmed to have tested positive for Covid-19, believes they must not overwhelm the drive to get games on. A must when a second consecutive season being curtailed is the doomsday scenario.
“People are sometimes going to get this virus whether they are doing the right things or not I think,” Lennon said. “We’re just going to have to try and live with it the best we can. People have got to try, for me, to get back to as normal a life as possible, even though things aren’t normal, without being reckless with it.”
Every club will live in fear with the possibility of suffering as St Mirren did in losing 3-0 at the weekend, Lennon acknowledged. He is in no doubt Jim Goodwin’s men were undone by the “thousands to one” situation that required them to agree an emergency loan hours before kick-off to be able to field Zdenek Zlamal in goal. The Hearts loanee is set to place again against Celtic.
“You just have to have contingency plans in place. I’m not saying St Mirren didn’t, but that’s totally out of the blue what happened to them,” the Celtic manager said. “What happened to us was out of the blue and it wasn’t a benefit, it was totally disruptive to our plans, our league position and our fitness going into the Champions League qualifier.
“Everyone is learning as we go along with this thing, whether it is football clubs, boards, associations or governments. Things can change all the time, whether that’s the virus itself or the conditions you have to live under and abide by.
“I don’t think what anybody wants is the season to be called. To do it once probably wasn’t satisfactory to anyone, but for it to happen again would be unpalatable and not good for the game. You want to avoid it, but in my own view, we’ll probably get a second spike of this in society, because it seems to be the way these things pan out. We’re just going to have to try and live with it the best we can.”
Lennon will make changes to the team that won 5-0 at Ross County because of the glut of games coming up in the next couple of weeks and feels he has the strength of squad to cope.
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