With a growing number of games at all levels of the football pyramid being affected by Covid-19 outbreaks, with many fixtures being cancelled just hours before kick off, the call for some kind of ‘circuit breaker’ to be applied has gathered momentum, with West Brom’s Sam Allardyce the latest high profile name to show his support for that particular cause.
Speaking about the subject at his remotely hosted Thursday morning press conference, manager Chris Beech said: “I’m one for trying the best to carry on, hence why I was very supportive even at 5pm at Harrogate when the referee looked at the snow and ice on the pitch.
“I let the opposition manager lead and I didn’t try and influence one bit prior, or when the game started. I think in the end the ref made the right call to avoid serious injuries.
“The bigger picture, just watching national news, is that there seems to be more uplift in terms of infections, but I understand there’ll be more testing going on than when we first locked down.
“At the same time it doesn’t mean to say that the virus isn’t here. It does put you in some really strange, peculiar positions and conversations.
“We do our best in our current circumstances to make sure we represent ourselves to make sure we follow our EFL governance, and what we’re doing in terms of being told everything carries on as normal. Even though for me individually to not have your captain available is hard, but it is what it is.”
“It’s vital that we keep impressing on everybody that they have to be careful, but we’re all human,” he continued. “I include myself in this, with a young man who’s had a liver transplant and was in the shielding department of not being allowed out of our house for four months. He didn’t even get an hour outside.
“I’ve been to a petrol station, I’ve been in Tesco, I’ve been trying to buy Christmas cards, I was up this morning clearing my drive at 5.45am of snow to make sure I was here to speak to you guys at 9am prior to training.
“You just bump into people. Sometimes you can’t help but where it starts, but we’ve got to concentrate on where we are. Until a governing body changes that, and I know there are some big noises being made by Premier League managers now.
“Man City closed their training ground and things like that, we have to ignore all that while we try and concentrate on finding a venue to train at today, because it’s very cold, regrouping and seeing who’s fit as we prepare to play Walsall.”
On captain Nick Anderton, who has followed guidelines with a period of self isolation, he said: “Nick is available after Saturday, so he’s not available for Saturday, due to what happened. It’s just the way it is.
“We’ve had a few track and trace texts and things like that have gone on this week, ultimately we’ve got on top of it all. A few of the boys had a virus test yesterday on walk-in centres, they’ve all come back negative, so it’s very good.
“We’re having to do things like that just to make sure we’re good for training today. It is difficult but it’s what it is, and I know in the new year the EFL are having mass testing to the whole system. I know a lot of clubs are already shutting down, some Premier League training grounds are shutting down, big Sam Allardyce is saying it’s time for a rest. It seems a little bit that way at the moment.”
And on the players absent through injury on Tuesday night, he told us: “It’s possible they could be back, there’s two or three lads really, but we’ll see.
“I’ll know more as we grow into heading down the M6 to the game. I don’t like making later decisions, being honest, but in the current circumstance I’ll have to change my tactic a bit and open the window of opportunity a little bit more to the lads, to give them an extra 12 to 24 hours to see where they are.
“I’m looking forward to today’s training session, seeing the boys getting back going because it was a bit strange the other day to warm up, start the game, get back on the bus, with the game kicking off later, having had 7pm kick-offs lately … we still had a late night.
“They had yesterday as rest, and I’m praying everybody can get here today, the weather’s pretty bad on the edge of Lancaster, hopefully everybody can get up and we can have a good two days of preparation for Walsall.”