Neil Lennon is ready to block cap call-ups for Celtic players

New Fifa allows clubs to withhold internationals if they need to self-isolate

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has confirmed the Scottish champions could block several of their players from representing their countries in the upcoming international break.

Fifa this week passed a temporary change to their rules governing the release of players for international duty in response to the ongoing travel restrictions and varying government quarantine regulations in place across Europe as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Clubs will not be penalised for withdrawing players from any international fixtures in which their participation would require them to go into quarantine or self-isolate for a period of at least five days, either on their arrival at the venue for the match or on their return to their club side.

Scottish Government rules currently call for a 14-day isolation period on return from any country not on their Covid-19 exempt list, although that would not apply to professional football clubs returning from away games on private charter flights.

But it remains unclear how players would be impacted when they have to take commercial flights to and from Scotland to join up with their national teams.

Celtic have a clutch of players who could be affected in the imminent international break. They include goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas, scheduled to play for Greece in Slovenia and Kosovo, and striker Odsonne Edouard who is in the French under-21 squad for their matches in Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Other Scottish clubs facing the same dilemma include Rangers, with players such as Croatian full-back Borna Barisic and Finland midfielder Glen Kamara among those due to travel independently to meet up with their respective international squads.

Lennon will seek clarification on the situation this week as he looks to ensure none of his players is sidelined for 14 days which would potentially rule them out of a Champions League third qualifying round tie on 15 or 16 September.

“It’s not feasible for us to quarantine players for two weeks, absolutely not,” said Lennon. “I only became aware of this on Monday night, so I’ll talk to our Covid officer at Celtic after our game against Ferencvaros on Wednesday night and then take a view on whether our players will get special dispensation or whether they would have to be

quarantined.

“This is something the club is going to have to have dialogue on with the relevant national associations. We’ll discuss it after Wednesday night, prepare for it over the next few days before the game against Motherwell on Sunday and have a chat to the individual players concerned and tell them going away to play for their country may or may not be able to happen.”

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