Celts look to capital switch for friendlies

CELTIC'S plans to ensure safe passage through next season's Champions League qualifiers could include staging friendlies at Murrayfield.

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Celtic boss Neil Lennon is weighing up ties in Edinburgh
Celtic boss Neil Lennon is weighing up ties in Edinburgh

The 67,000-capacity home of Scottish rugby will be the venue for the Hoops' first two qualifiers, which kick off in July, as Celtic Park is being used for the Commonwealth Games.

Neil Lennon is already concerned about having to play games so early in the summer, possibly against teams already up and running in their league.

Celtic will, most likely, have to start the campaign without the players who are involved in the World Cup finals, Emilio Izaguirre, Efe Ambrose, Fraser Forster and Tom Rogic.

Having to factor in moving their home matches away from Parkhead adds to the anxiety of the Hoops boss.

Which is why Lennon is seriously considering trying to stage at least one game at Murrayfield - which is set to have a new £1.25million hybrid playing surface laid after the last one suffered an infestation of worms - before they play there in their opening qualifier.

His players report back for training on June 24, and are scheduled to head for a training centre in Austria after completing their initial fitness work at Lennoxtown.

They will play a series of low-key friendlies while there, so it will be a tight squeeze to fit in a match at Murrayfield before the action begins for real.

However, with so much at stake, Lennon is looking at the possibility and said: "If we could (play a game there), I would.

"That is something we will have to look at, just to get used to the pitch and the dynamics of the stadium.

"Maybe we will have some training sessions on it as well."

Hearts staged a series of European games at Murrayfield between 2004 and 2006 - against Sporting Braga, Ferencvaros, Schalke, AEK Athens,Siroki Brijeg and Sparta Prague - after Uefa decreed Tynecastle was not suitable due to the dimensions of the playing surface.

But it will be heading into the unknown for Lennon and his Bhoys, and the manager wants to pre-empt any potential problems in adjusting.

Meanwhile, Leigh Griffiths will have to sweat for another fortnight before he discovers if he is to serve a suspension or pay a fine for breaching SFA rules.

The Celtic striker was due to appear before a disciplinary hearing at Hampden today to answer charges of bringing the game into disrepute and acting against the best interests of football.

The charges arose after video footage emerged of him allegedly singing in a pub about Hearts and Rudi Skacel. The initial hearing was to answer the Notices of Complaint was scheduled for April 24.

But, at the request of Griffiths' solicitor, this was postponed until today to allow Police Scotland investigations into the alleged incident on March 30 to be concluded.

With the police enquiry expected to take a further two weeks to reach a conclusion, a second request to delay the SFA hearing until June 5 has been granted.

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