Celtic confirmed a second player had tested positive for coronavirus on Monday after a much-criticised training camp in Dubai but manager Neil Lennon hit back angrily at what he labelled “hypocrisy” over the trip.
Lennon and 13 players were forced to self-isolate for draws against Hibernian and Livingston in the past week after Christopher Jullien tested positive on the squad’s return to Glasgow.
More dropped points realistically ended the Hoops’ hopes of winning a record 10th consecutive Scottish Premiership title as they are now 21 points behind Rangers, albeit with three games in hand.
Chief executive Peter Lawwell admitted the trip was “a mistake” and apologised to fans last week.
However, Lennon hit back ahead of his return to the dugout for another meeting with Livingston on Wednesday.
“Another player has been deemed positive, it is someone who is self-isolating,” he said.
“Everyone is negative bar two players. I think that is remarkable and blows out the water the way the trip has been portrayed in certain quarters of the media, by certain pundits and by certain government officials as well.
“We didn’t abuse any ‘privilege’, we did the right things, we were totally professional.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those to criticise the trip, which took place with the country under tough restrictions to tackle soaring Covid-19 infection rates.
Pictures of Lennon and club captain Scott Brown drinking beer by a pool shortly after a 1-0 defeat to Rangers on January 2 also sparked fans’ anger in what has been a disastrous season on and off the field for Celtic.
“We had a little drink in the afternoon on the day off, completely allowed, no law-breaking. But we come back to this barrage of absolute hypocrisy,” added Lennon.
Lennon also addressed comments made by former Celtic striker Andy Walker who, speaking in his role as a pundit, criticised the club for “dismal governance” over the trip, which he labelled “a jolly”.
He said: “You can’t go on a public platform and spread lies and insults about my professionalism, my players’ professionalism.
“About 70-80 percent of the group are teetotal and you know the inference and innuendo that he is making. It is not a stag do, it isn’t an ’18-30′ even though it has been portrayed like that.
“We went out there with the best intentions. The lads had one day off and they are entitled to a bit of down time.”