BRENDAN RODGERS admitted runaway league leaders Celtic’s preparation for last night’s 1-0 win over Kilmarnock had been “far from ideal”.
And the Hoops boss told his 14 international players it was imperative they shifted their focus back to club duties as swiftly as possible.
He was rewarded with another away victory and three points as the champions moved 13 points ahead of Aberdeen who play Caley Thistle in Inverness this afternoon.
Rodgers left Australia midfielder Tom Rogic and Honduran defender Emilio Izaguirre on the subs’ bench for the start of the game at Rugby Park. Both had just one day’s training at Lennoxtown to prepare.
Midfield man Callum McGregor took over at left-back while Rogic came on in the second-half.
The Parkhead gaffer – who hailed the narrow victory in Ayrshire as “brilliant” – said: “It’s something that isn’t ideal.
“We had 14 players away over this break, over 50 per cent of your squad are away. I would assume we have the most international players away yet we are the team who played on the Friday.
“So, it’s not ideal preparation. They are never usually are on the back of an international break.”
However, Rodgers added: “I’m always happy for the players to go away internationally and play.
“I always say to them to focus on doing their best for their country. It’s important for them to go away and represent their national team and do well and then focus on doing well for Celtic.
“For the players who had the opportunity to recover, it was very beneficial for them.”
Leigh Griffiths, last season’s 40-goal man, missed the win in Ayrshire after sustaining a hamstring injury playing for Scotland in their World Cup defeat against England eight days ago.
The striker is now a major doubt for the Hoops’ vital Champions League game against Barcelona at Parkhead in midweek.
Rodgers added: “He’s touch and go. Leigh felt it tighten in the last 15 minutes as he was sprinting after the ball, but he played on, so we’ll see how he gets on.”