Stephen Welsh admits Christopher Jullien’s positive Covid-19 test stunned Celtic

Celtic v Standard Liege – Pre-Season Friendly – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Ian Rutherford)

Celtic youngster Stephen Welsh admits panic spread through the Hoops’ squad as news broke of Christopher Jullien’s positive coronavirus test.

The Frenchman contracted the virus during the club’s controversial Dubai winter training camp, leaving his Parkhead team-mates stunned.

Boss Neil Lennon, his assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players were forced to quarantine as a result after investigations ruled they had all come into close contact with the centre-back on the flight back from the United Arab Emirates.

Having escaped those self-isolation measures, Welsh was called in from the cold to start in Monday night’s 1-1 draw with Hibernian in which Kevin Nisbet’s late equaliser dealt a further blow to Celtic’s 10-in-a-row dreams.

Reflecting on the Jullien situation, 20-year-old Welsh said: “Probably for everyone there was a bit of panic because anyone can get it these days.

“So, you’re just hoping you don’t get the phone call that tells you that you’re a positive.

“I was happy I wasn’t one of the guys involved so I could go and play against Hibs.

“We have our own bubble. This is the first time since June, July, when we started testing, that someone’s picked up a positive case within the club.

“So, I think we’re going to follow all the protocols from now on until the end of the season.

“You never think it’s going to be you. So when it happens it is a bit of a shock.

“When the team comes together, you need to get on with it. I thought we did that pretty well.”

Everyone from the Celtic support to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has queued up to have a pop at the Glasgow giants over their decision to make the 3,000-mile journey to the UAE amid a global pandemic.

But Welsh insists the Hoops embarked on the mid-winter training camp with the best of intentions.

He said: “I thought the Dubai trip was a hard-working trip, the training was excellent, four days of really tough training.

“The past two years it’s worked perfectly, we’ve kicked on from January the past few years.

“The training in Dubai, I thought, was excellent. We got to work on a lot of things.

“We’ve come back and we’ve had all the bad news about Chris and everyone hopes he recovers well, that it’s not too serious for him.”

No matter the reasons Celtic had for heading to Dubai, it has backfired spectacularly from a PR point of view as well as on the pitch.

Stand-in boss Gavin Strachan presided over another disappointing result as his patch-work line-up had David Turnbull’s free-kick cancelled out by Nisbet’s stoppage-time strike.

The result left the champions 21 points behind Steven Gerrard’s rampant Rangers and Welsh said: “We scored a late goal, an unbelievable free-kick. But we couldn’t hang on at the end.

“I think it was probably the experience of the younger boys coming on, me included, of trying to see out games and trying to win games.

“That’s what the club’s all about, winning games. So we’re really disappointed we didn’t win the game.

“The boys who were out are the big players for the team. The team was thrown together within 24-48 hours, so I think the spirit was really good.

“I thought we were really good, but it’s always disappointing not winning, especially when you are 1-0 up.”

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