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DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL: The lads have conducted themselves well

David Holdsworth on the Covid-19 isolation period for the club

20 January 2021

Internal and external Carlisle United media channels should now be full of post-Tuesday night match action and reaction but, with the club isolating in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines, it’ll be another week without football, with the away trip to Newport County the game which will see a welcome return for the Blues.

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Updating us on the where things currently stand, director of football David Holdsworth said: “It is what it is. Things got slightly worse after the Harrogate game, which led to the need for self-isolation, and the numbers are what they are.

“We’re hoping the boys will get through this ten-day period with a clean bill of health and they’ll be raring to go.”

“The frustrating thing is that there is no sense that anybody did anything wrong,” he continued. “The lads have been really good in how they’ve conducted themselves.

“If you look at the announcements from the government every day you can see how rife this is, and how poorly some people are.

“The good thing for us is that most of the lads who have tested positive are showing no symptoms at all, but we have to do what’s right, as we have done all along.

“Nigel Clibbens will deal with the investigation, and all of that is confidential, but we made sure we did everything right prior to these cases cropping up.

“We did everything we could to make sure we kept a clean bill of health, and we have a group of good lads who have done their best.

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“At the moment there’s a couple of them who have a couple of symptoms, but they seem to be getting better over the last few of days. It’s hard at the moment, it’s tough for the manager, tough for everybody, to reorganise, to try to be forward thinking, but also respectful of the situation. 

“It has been hectic, it’s certainly been a time that you learn about a lot of things on and off the pitch. Ultimately on the pitch we’ve been outstanding, off the pitch we’ve been outstanding as best we can, dealing with lots of issues, but we seem to be coming through them in a collective matter.”

And there was certainly a clear view on whether or not the current situation merited a football-wide pause.

“I have my own view, and that is that with the virus spreading as it is, football could be and should be shut down,” he insisted. “I’m not in charge, and I’m certainly not a scientist, but I just want people to be safe.

“I’m only going with what I see with the Government, and from my point of view, this is only my opinion. I believe we should have had a three or four-week shut down so that we could finish the season in June.

“I’d rather everybody be safe and at home. Most people can do some type of exercise, which is allowed outside. I would prefer to be shut down to get everybody safe, in this national lockdown it seems the sensible thing for me.

“I don’t think footballers should be chastised for playing football, or football clubs trying to run a football club, when you have no supporters, no income, and it’s hard.”

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“And it is really hard,” he continued. “You’re trying to know what numbers you have on the training pitch. Everybody who’s been affected in some way earlier will be tested again on Friday, so it’s not going to be a great preparation for the manager going to a top of the table clash.

“After that the games are going to come thick and fast. We just hope we can get as much clearance as possible going forward and get numbers on the dancefloor.

“We’re governed by the EFL rules on that. We’ll have to prepare for Newport in the best way we can, but is it good for us to come out of 10 days’ of isolation, training on 20-30 per cent, because none of these boys are like PL players, with gyms at home.

“They might have a spare room or a shed, and it’s going to be difficult going into a top of the table clash with limited preparation, let alone a four-hour journey down the motorway. But we’ll face the challenge and I have no doubt that team and manager will go out there to fight for us.”

“Amongst that we have to make sure we protect our players,” he added. “It’s an uncertain world at the moment, it is difficult, fair play to everybody that turned up at every game, every league club in this world, certainly in the EFL where it’s not as structured behind the scenes as it is in the PL.

“I have a lot of respect for people because this is very difficult. We want supporters back, hopefully that will return come the summer, but right now I salute the players for how they’re going about their business, and at our club, we just have to make sure we’re responsible, doing the right things and keeping that spirit that we’ve got for our supporters.

“We’re very grateful for the support we get back, it’s a great combination.”

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