Neil Lennon will welcome back his Celtic players to training in smaller groups this coming week. And the Hoops boss admits he's simply excited to get his stars back on a football pitch after almost three months of inactivity.

With the new season pencilled in for an August 1 start, the Scottish champions plan to slowly reintegrate their stars back into a familiar schedule. The health and wellbeing of all players and staff is of the utmost importance and Lennon is sure the protocols put in place by the club in advance of a return will prove to be the correct ones.

"We start doing the medical side of things on Monday and Tuesday," the boss told Celtic TV. "We’ll all get tested on Wednesday and, hopefully, we can start in small groups on Thursday. It’ll be groups of five, so we’ll have two groups in the morning, two groups at lunchtime and two in the afternoon, so we’ll get to see them all. We haven’t seen them for a while, you tend to miss them and miss that camaraderie and atmosphere around the place.

"There will be certain protocols – for example, they can’t go in the building, so everything will be done outside, which is fine, and we’re just delighted that we can have sort of semblance of training. We have a target now of the first week in August to start back and all those plans are now coming to fruition that the club has been working on these past few months."

Lennon went on: "In terms of the recruitment processes, they’re all underway now, and in terms of adding to the squad and talking to clubs, again, it’s sort of early days but we’ve made tentative inroads as regards that as well.

"Just getting the players back, getting them familiar with the atmosphere, the training and surroundings again, that’s all going to be important, but we need to be patient with that as well. So, although we’ve got a June 11 start [in training], hopefully within a week or two, we can start training in bigger groups and all that is for the process of getting ready for the first week in August."

Premiership clubs will be able to screen footage of all home matches to season ticket holders until restrictions and social distancing measures are relaxed, thanks to a deal struck between the SPFL and Sky Sports on virtual season tickets.

And, while fans would ideally be back in the stands to watch Celtic go for 10 in a row, Lennon hopes they won't miss out on history as games are played behind closed doors. "We need the fans right with us, even if it’s at a safe distance as it were, on a short-term basis," he added.

"This is momentous. It comes round once in a lifetime and I want this generation of supporters to be a huge part of that, as they always are. I want them to play their part in it and we’ll play our part in entertaining them and making them proud of us.

“It’ll be difficult in the short term, for the supporters and the players not having each other, working hand in hand, but hopefully that period of time will travel quickly and we can get that togetherness and solidarity back again. The anticipation is palpable.

“What I have to do, as a manager, is keep a lid on things, get the players in the best condition possible, but I don’t think they’ll need any extra motivation. And certainly, to have the players and the fans backing us all the way – it’s going to be a hell of a ride."