Harrogate Town reluctantly decline chance to play Glasgow Celtic in friendly

Harrogate Town have reluctantly turned down the chance to take on one of the giants of the European game in a friendly fixture.

Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 10:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 10:56 pm
Harrogate Town were second in the National League when 2019/20 was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis and are now preparing to compete in the play-offs. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Simon Weaver’s men, who are preparing to take part in the National League play-offs later this month, were offered a game against Scottish champions Glasgow Celtic.

And, although the Town boss said he would not usually have thought twice about accepting, he felt the risk of injury to members of his squad was too great with arguably the biggest match in the club’s history just around the corner.

“I received a great phone call from Danny Wilson just the other day, asking if we wanted to play Celtic at Loughborough, all expenses paid,” Weaver revealed.

“Under any other circumstances we’d love to have played them. What an opportunity, and what a blow to have to say no.

“But it’s too big a risk for us with the size of our squad and because we only have four defenders available for the play-offs.

"We're walking on egg shells a little bit in that respect. We've got to be very careful at the moment.

“I’m sure Celtic will find another of the play-off sides with a bigger squad who will be able to give them a game, but hopefully that link is forged now.”

Celtic, who were crowned Scottish Premiership champions for the ninth consecutive season in May, are currently holding a training camp at Loughborough University.

Their invite to Town comes after Bhoys boss Neil Lennon revealed that he wants his side to play friendlies in empty stadiums to help them prepare for the 2020/21 campaign, which is expected to begin behind closed doors.

"The players have to adapt to that environment," Lennon said.

"It will be totally different to what they have been used to obviously and the more that we can practice at that, the more they can adapt to it."

Meanwhile, Harrogate are readying themselves for their National League play-off semi-final clash with either Boreham Wood or FC Halifax Town on July 25.

The winner of that match, to be played at the CNG Stadium, will then head to Wembley where another victory will see them promoted to League Two for the coming season.