Celtic, Rangers and Hibs facing player availability sweat with January international calendar
Celtic, Hibs and Rangers are keeping a close eye on the travel restrictions being brought in over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Both sides are set to lose players to World Cup qualifying duty in January – with key players missing three matches to compete in the Qatar qualifying section for Asia.
However Japan – who would ordinarily look to call upon Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi – has announced closed borders with the new discovery and, if the scenario was to continue, the Japanese FA have confirmed they would play the games against Uzbekistan, China and Saudi Arabia with domestic players.
That could hand Celtic a reprieve for three SPFL Premiership fixtures after the winter break – against Hearts, Dundee United and Motherwell.
Australia are also in the running for Qatar qualification and could call upon Furuhashi’s team-mate Tom Rogic as well as Hibs’ Martin Boyle.
Jack Ross would lose the Socceroos forward for games against Motherwell, Livingston and St Mirren on January 26, 29 and February 5 if called up by Graham Arnold to face Vietnam and Oman on January 27 and February 1.
Rangers will be another club monitoring proceedings closely with the upcoming African Cup of Nations likely to involve some of the Nigerian contingent at Ibrox – if it goes ahead.
Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun have been regulars for the Super Eagles while Calvin Bassey, who recently broke into the first-team under Giovanni van Bronckhorst, was called up to his first squad in October.
The AFCON begins on January 9 and will encompass the two-week Premiership shut-down, Nigeria’s first fixture is January 11 though pre-tournament camps may be scheduled earlier.