MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and Hibernian FC boss Neil Lennon have hit out at Football Federation Australia for demanding the teams release their Socceroos players after Christmas for a training camp ahead of next month’s Asian Cup.
Rodgers said the FFA had insisted Tom Rogic report in Dubai by Dec. 27 ahead of the Jan. 5-Feb. 1 tournament in the United Arab Emirates, robbing Celtic of their star midfielder for the ‘Old Firm’ derby against Rangers on Dec. 29.
“We hope we can find a sensible solution,” Rodgers told British media.
“At this moment in time he’s due to play his last game for us away at Aberdeen and then he’s due to fly out to meet up with the Australian squad on the 27th so that would mean him missing the last game (before the winter break).
“That’s not something we’re overly happy about because we want to work in a relationship with the federations. I spoke with Graham Arnold, the manager, here and I had two really good days of trying to ensure relations are good between international teams and club teams.
“But you do that through working together and what is the best for each player. And we feel Tom can play and be available for the 29th and fly out after the game and meet up in Dubai on the 30th and still be there virtually a week before he’s due to play his first game.”
Graham Arnold-coached Australia play the first match of their Asian Cup title defence on Jan. 6 against Jordan.
“Tom wants to play in the (Rangers) game but he also wants to play for Australia. It’s a position the player doesn’t need to be in,” added Rogers.
Hibs coach Lennon stands to lose the services of three Socceroos — Mark Milligan, striker Jamie Maclaren and Scotland-born winger Martin Boyle, who only became eligible to play for Australia in November.
The three would miss the Edinburgh derby against Hearts on Dec. 29.
“We were of the opinion that we would be able to negotiate one or two players and not lose all three, so the goalposts have moved a little bit,” Lennon told local media.
“I know (Arnold) is under pressure, not just from us but from other clubs, but that wasn’t the indication we were given when we were promoting Boyle to him.
“Boyle went away and did very well and has become a welcome addition to their squad but then we get the email in saying they are taking all three of them after Boxing Day.”
Football Federation Australia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Celtic are top of the Scottish Premiership on 36 points, one ahead of Rangers. Hibs are eighth in the 12-team league.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)