Celtic will resist plan to postpone games before Scotland’s Euro play-off

Celtic are opposed to the Scottish FA’s bid to have Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures postponed ahead of the Euro 2020 play-offs.
Neil Lennon: 'Our opinion is it wouldn't suit us'. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNSNeil Lennon: 'Our opinion is it wouldn't suit us'. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Neil Lennon: 'Our opinion is it wouldn't suit us'. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

Steve Clarke, the Scotland manager, is keen for the SPFL not to stage any games on the Sunday before the semi-final against Israel on Thursday 26 March, to give him more time to work with his players.

There have been suggestions that the SFA will push to have all top-flight games cancelled the weekend prior to the meeting with Andreas Herzog’s side.

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Israel have scrapped all of their league games before the Hampden match to allow Herzog to take his squad on a four-day training camp.

Due to their punishing schedule in the second half of the season, Celtic are not keen on a postponement. Parkhead manager Neil Lennon has no fewer than seven consecutive midweek games to negotiate after play restarts following the winter shutdown.

He had indicated last year that he would be behind the postponement of games to help Clarke. “Steve should get what he wants because the national team is a priority,” he said in November. “The authorities should give him whatever he wants and needs for those games.”

But the Northern Irishman, who was scathing about the SFA’s decision to cite Ryan Christie for an incident in the game against Rangers at Parkhead last month and then ban him last week, confirmed the treble treble winners are against the proposal.

“Our opinion is it wouldn’t suit us,” he said from the Scottish champions’ winter training camp in Dubai. “It wouldn’t be ideal for us, put it that way.”

Celtic, who could have Christie, James Forrest and Callum McGregor involved in the national side, are due to host St Johnstone on the Saturday before the play-off semi-final.

However, that game will be moved to the Sunday if they beat Copenhagen in a Europa League last-32 double header next month. The last-16 second-leg games will be played on Thursday 19 March.

Rangers, who are likely to have Ryan Jack in the Scotland squad, are scheduled to take on St Mirren in Paisley on Saturday 21 March. But if they overcome Braga in the last 32 they, too, will have their league game pushed back to the next day.

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Meanwhile, Celtic winger Lewis Morgan’s move to Inter Miami has edged closer, with the player understood to have agreed terms with the new MLS side.

Only the finer details of the deal remain to be ironed out and the former St Mirren player will then undergo a medical.

Subject to receiving a visa, he will travel to Miami to complete the move to the club owned by David Beckham.

Morgan has been unable to make a sustained run in the starting line-up since signing for Celtic in January 2018. He was initially loaned back to the Paisley club, while another loan spell at Sunderland followed.

He has made 18 appearances for Celtic this season under Neil Lennon, starting the League Cup final against Rangers, but he hasn’t played a domestic game since.