Celtic coach Gavin Strachan has defended the club’s decision to take injured defender Christopher Jullien to their Dubai training camp.
Jullien, who had been ruled out for four months with a knee injury, travelled with the rest of the squad to UAE last week, and tested positive for coronavirus on return, forcing 13 teammates into self-isolation.
Manager Neil Lennon and his assistant John Kennedy also had to self-isolate, leaving Strachan to take charge of a makeshift side against Hibs on Monday evening. The team drew 1-1, leaving Rangers 21 points in front at the top of the Premiership, having played three games more.
Celtic’s decision to persevere with their training camp despite the worsening coronavirus situation has drawn the ire of fans, and criticism from government, with the consequences deepening the emotion surrounding the decision.
But Strachan said that taking Jullien was justifiable.
It was to maintain his treatment with the backroom staff, he went over there so we can get him back as fast as we can,” he said.
“Yeah, I can understand the frustration from everybody, because we end up playing with a weaker team tonight, but that could have happened if we were training at home as well.
“There’s a lot of teams up and down the country, and in England as well, who are suffering with this.
“There’s regret that one person has caught the virus but there’s not a regret in terms of the permission we got to go and the protocols that we followed, which we have done the whole season.
“It’s regrettable that we got one positive, which we could have got at any time.”
Strachan admitted the result against Hibs was “tough to take” after David Turnbull had put the hosts ahead with a sumptuous free-kick before Kevin Nisbet slammed in an injury-time equaliser.
“The players put a lot into the game,” he said. “I thought we’d won it with a moment of magic but it’s a frustrating time to concede and the manner of the goal is a tough one to take.
“When you factor in the disruption we’ve had over the last couple of days, I thought the performance was very good.
“There was a lot of energy in it. A lot of endeavour which you would expect and there was moments of good quality.
“In any circumstances it’s a privilege leading a Celtic team and something anyone with a coaching career would be very proud of.
“I’m just gutted we couldn’t get the three points.
“Where does it leave the title race? It leaves it as more difficult. It does, but there’s still la lot of football to be played. We’ve just got to pick up as many points as we can and hope that other factors maybe change in our favour.”