Ange Postecoglou is confident the upcoming World Cup break will not have an adverse effect on Celtic’s season.
The Hoops manager admitted there are a lot of “unknown” factors related to how teams will cope with having the campaign interrupted for around a month from mid-November onwards to accommodate the finals in Qatar.
When asked if he had any concerns about his side being negatively impacted by the break, which comes almost a month and a half prior to when the cinch Premiership usually has its January winter shutdown, Postecoglou said: “I hope not, I’m a bit more optimistic than that.
“It’s obviously a bit different but here in Scotland we usually have a break around that time of the year.
“The only difference is that some of our players will be at a World Cup. There are a lot of unknowns, not just for us, but for every club around the world, about what impact a mid-season World Cup has but I tend to focus on the stuff that’s known and what we can do to control the environment and make sure we’re ready.
“That’s what we’ll do and I’m optimistic that it won’t all fall apart in the second half of the year.”
Postecoglou explained that Celtic are well prepared for how to manage their squad through the break.
“It’s been part of our planning from pre-season,” he said. “You kind of work with the things that are known. And that is that we’re going to Australia straight after the last league game for a week for a couple of games there.
“Then the players will have a mini-break for about a week or so and then we head to Portugal for a camp before the resumption. They’re the knowns.
“The unknowns are which players end up going to the World Cup, where the other players are physically and it’s likely we’ll have to have individual programmes for some of them.
“For instance, if they go to the World Cup, when do we give them a break? When do they come back in? If they’re in rehab, what sort of time off are we giving them?
“We’ve got a plan for the collective but within that there will be some individual programmes.”
Prior to the break, Celtic still have eight games to negotiate in a 24-day period, starting with Wednesday’s Premier Sports Cup quarter-final away to Motherwell. Postecoglou has demanded his team maintain maximum focus against a side currently eighth in the Premiership.
“There are always teams that go on cup runs, sometimes belying their league form,” said the Hoops boss. “Cup competitions sometimes free teams up a bit and give them licence to be a bit more aggressive in their approach.
“From our perspective it’s about playing our football because we know that when we play well, we’re hard to stop.”
Celtic will continue to be without Callum McGregor, Jota, Carl Starfelt and David Turnbull for the trip to Fir Park.
“Jota’s progressing, he’s out training, but won’t be right for tomorrow,” Postecoglou said on Tuesday. “Jota and Turnbull are closest to coming back but they’ll miss tomorrow then we’ll see about the weekend. Cal and Carl are still weeks away.”