John Barnes reckons Celtic's decision to head to Dubai for their annual winter training camp was the right one as it has allowed the players to focus on rebuilding squad harmony that has been lacking.

The Hoops find themselves a whopping 19 points behind rivals Rangers in the Premiership and their jaunt to UAE has been seen by some quarters back home as an unnecessary trip, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.

That's not how Barnes sees it, though. The former Celtic manager has detected disharmony in the ranks this term and he believes a visit to a training camp away from the noise of Glasgow and the rest of Scotland can be exactly what Neil Lennon and his troops need to get back on track.

READ MORE: Shane Duffy exits Dubai training break for 'family reasons'

"At the end of the day, they had permission to go to Dubai," Barnes said. "But following last weekend’s defeat to Rangers, it’s inevitable that people will make their opinions heard. But I don’t think going to Dubai had any bearing on whether they lost to Rangers or whether they can win the league or not.

“Instead, going away as a team - especially when you’re under a lot of pressure - could be a good thing as it allows you to focus on team spirit and to bond as a team, away from everything and everyone.  

“Obviously from a protocol point of view, if they broke a protocol then they will pay for it. But [Celtic] are arguing that all was approved and that they did not break any protocol. So until we know more, I can’t see this being an issue."

One player who has come in for some serious criticism this season is Shane Duffy, who left Celtic's Dubai training camp this morning for what is understood to be family reasons.

READ MORE: Charlie Mulgrew questions Rangers' bottle and still harbours hopes of Celtic winning title

The on-loan Brighton defender's form has dipped and he has been in and out of Lennon's XI. Barnes is convinced there is still a top quality player in there somewhere and has backed the Irishman to show his talents in a Hoops jersey before his loan spell ends in the summer.

Duffy has played 20 times for the club this season, but latterly only from the bench. And contrary to opinion of a vast portion of the Celtic support, Barnes believes Duffy has been one player who has played WELL through the tough times. He and the rest of the players are merely a victim of difficult circumstances.

"[Shane] was playing in a team in England who were down at the bottom who nearly got relegated," Barnes added. "He didn't go to Scotland as a superstar playing for one of the top teams. He's a very good player who can compete in Scotland comfortably but I don't think that they were looking for Shane Duffy to win them matches.

“The problem is not Duffy, the issue is that they haven’t scored enough goals. I think he's a good player who’s playing well but the harmony isn't particularly right at Celtic and I’m not sure any player would play particularly well right now. But it’s not right to look at Duffy and say that he's been a failure because he hasn’t. In fact, he’s probably one of the players that have performed well this season."

Lennon has already hinted that the club will be in the market for a defender this month to cover injured Christopher Jullien. But Barnes insists they might struggle to do any good business in a difficult window.

“For me, January is not a good time to sign players, as the top tier of players won’t be available," he said. "However, in the situation Celtic has found themselves in, I think that some fresh blood could hopefully bring some much needed confidence back, and it would also show fans that they’ve got the ambition and drive to do what they can to still get the 10-in-a-row."

Barnes was speaking with