Depleted Celtic play Hibernian after Dubai trip ends with 16 staff and players isolating

Celtic were missing numerous players on Monday night. Credit: PA

Celtic's match against Hibernian went ahead on Monday night despite 16 players and staff from the Scottish Premiership champions self-isolating due to coronavirus.

The Hoops’ plans were thrown into chaos when manager Neil Lennon and a host of players had to isolate following their mid-season trip to Dubai, from which they returned on Friday.

Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players have been deemed to be close contacts of defender Christopher Jullien, who tested positive for Covid-19 and also went into self-isolation.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has questioned whether the trip was "really essential", before saying the football authorities should decide whether Celtic should face action.

A threadbare Celtic looked set to beat Hibs thanks to a Paul Turnbull strike, only to see Kevin Nisbet to equalise in injury-time.

Hibs had asked for extra tests for the Celtic squad to give their players peace of mind ahead of the Scottish Premiership clash but were refused and told not fulfilling the fixture would have “severe consequences”.

Kevin Nisbet (right) celebrates scoring the equaliser. Credit: PA

A statement read: “Hibernian FC today reiterated it would do everything possible to ensure it meets its duty of care to all players and staff ahead of tonight’s fixture at Celtic Park.

“The club had asked the SPFL and Celtic to carry out an additional round of ‘on the day’ Covid 19 testing of Celtic players to provide an extra measure of assurance.

“We regarded this as a reasonable request – given the incubation period of the virus – but, unfortunately, our request was refused.

“The request followed 16 members of staff and players at Celtic being told to self-isolate on their return from an overseas training camp to Dubai after a positive result for one player, Christopher Julien, who is long-term injured and whom we wish a speedy recovery.

“The SPFL made clear that not fulfilling the fixture would have severe consequences for Hibernian.

“The club also notes that we are being asked to fulfil this fixture less than two weeks from our Betfred Cup semi-final.

“We have been assured by the SPFL that any Covid 19 issues that may arise from fulfilling this fixture will be taken into account, and the semi-final postponed if required.”