Aleksandar Tonev will not play in Celtic’s Premiership match with Inverness at Parkhead today after an appeal against his seven-match ban for racial abuse was not submitted in time.
The Bulgarian winger – on loan from Aston Villa – was suspended by the Scottish Football Association after attending a hearing on Thursday when he was found guilty of using “offensive, insulting and abusive language of a racist nature” towards Aberdeen defender Shay Logan when the two teams met in September.
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Celtic immediately released a statement confirming they would appeal but it is believed they failed to do so by close of business yesterday. They now have until Thursday, 6 November to lodge an appeal. Celtic’s next Premiership fixture after today is against Aberdeen at Pittodrie next Sunday, when Tonev would be available for selection if the appeal has been received by the SFA.
Tonev’s country also kept faith with him yesterday, by including him in the Bulgaria squad for their Euro 2016 qualifying fixture against Malta in Sofia later this month.
Villa manager Paul Lambert has refused to become embroiled in the race row surrounding the player, whom he allowed to join Celtic on loan this summer.
Speaking at Villa’s press conference yesterday, Lambert said: “I am not going to comment upon this situation. I am from Glasgow. I played for Celtic. They made a statement and I cannot comment.” Meanwhile, Ronny Deila is looking forward to eventually being able to field two different but equally capable Celtic teams.
The Celtic manager has found to his cost that his squad is not as strong as he wants it to be, never more so than when he played today’s opponents Inverness earlier in the season.
Ahead of the second leg of the Champions League qualifying play-off against Maribor at Parkhead in August – which they lost 1-0 following a 1-1 draw in Slovenia the previous week – the Norwegian made ten changes for the trip to the Highlands in the Premiership and lost 1-0.
Following the 2-2 Europa League draw away to Salzburg the following month, Deila made six changes for the visit of Motherwell and dropped another two points in the 1-1 draw, bringing more criticism his way.
It appeared that lessons have been learned following the home 2-1 Europa League win over Romanian outfit Astra Giurgiu just over a week ago, with Deila making only three changes for the league encounter against Kilmarnock at Parkhead which they won 2-0.
Recalling the first game against Caley Thistle, the former Stromsgodset boss said: “There are two things there. Hopefully within one year or two years, we can play those kind of teams and win.
“Two, there were too many changes. We had ten changes in that game. It was a very important game we had in the Champions League afterwards so that was something we had to do.
“Against Motherwell we had five or six changes and the last time we had only three and we played better and won.
“We have to learn from this and try to develop everyone so we can play two different teams sometimes if we need to.”
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon was on the bench for the defeat by John Hughes’ side and is looking to make amends at Celtic Park. The Scotland international said: “They have already beaten us this season. Up there we made a few changes after a European game. This time at home we will be looking to win the game and get our own back for that one.”
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