Celtic boss, Neil Lennon, has spoken to the club’s own media channel to summarise the team’s training camp in Dubai.
Celtic have gone to the Middle East in each of the last few seasons at this time of year, and have consequentially reaped the rewards by returning refreshed and hungry to kick on.
The league title is almost beyond grasp, with the Rangers holding a 19 point advantage, however Celtic do have three games in hand. If Lennon’s team win those, the gap is cut to 10 points, with two Glasgow Derby’s left to play.
Former Rangers captain, Barry Ferguson, recently predicted that Celtic will go the rest of the season unbeaten. In his opinion, the Rangers will still win the league if they can navigate a difficult January. The Rangers had to Aberdeen and Pittodrie, whilst they soon play Livingston on their infamous artificial surface just days after a Europa League tie against Antwerp. With that in mind, Celtic can pile on the pressure and have optimism that if they do their job, then those last four points might fall.
Neil Lennon certainly hasn’t given up hope and he told Celtic TV: “It’s been a superb training camp.” The Celtic manager continued:
“It’s a great facility and, obviously, the weather’s been good. The training’s been very intense and the players will get the benefit of it and be ready for the second half of the season. In terms of, an exercise and what we’ve got out of it, it’s been very worthwhile.
“The psychological benefits are huge. The players will come back having done some good work and can feel better about themselves. They’re refreshed, they’ve had some warm weather and are feeling good. All those accumulative effects will stand us in good stead. We’ve done this for the last four or five years and it’s been very beneficial. It certainly was last year so we’re hoping for more of the same this year.”
The Dubai training period has also allowed some players returning from injuries, such as Mikey Johnstone and James Forrest, to build up their fitness so that they can play a part in the second half of the season.
Neil Lennon was delighted to see the two key players making progress with their efforts to put their injuries behind them.
“It’s great to have them back training,” he said. “We missed those two this year. They’re two very exceptional individual talents who can change the dynamic of the way we play. Mikey’s had some real bad luck with injuries and it’s great to have him back and flourishing again. James isn’t a million miles away which is great because he’s been such a pivotal player for us over the years.”
The trip was very controversial as Scotland’s First Minister called for an investigation into Celtic going abroad during a global pandemic, meanwhile many fans were furious to see pictures of Neil Lennon and Scott Brown drinking beers at poolside. Nicola Sturgeon also questioned the importance of the trip, as rules state that professional athletes are able to go abroad for training camps if they have important to competition. Lennon’s comments clearly hit back at that questioning and show his belief if the camp to help the club moving forward.
Lennon also told the club’s media that they have got targets, incentives and a lot to play for still. Indeed, the Manager continued: “We are not giving up on the league by any stretch of the imagination but we are going to have to be really on it from here on in and they are capable of doing that.”
You can view the interview on the club’s Youtube channel below: