United boss Chris Beech revealed on Tuesday night that the latest round of Covid-19 tests had returned three positive results, with a fourth player phoning in on Tuesday morning to confirm that he was feeling symptoms of the virus.
The bi-weekly tests, which give a result within 20 minutes, are funded by the PFA and came into force on Monday morning when the first batch of test kits arrived at Brunton Park.
Speaking after the Harrogate game was called off for a second time on Tuesday night, manager Chris Beech said: “It’s pretty tough at the moment if I’m being honest with you, really tough, because obviously we’ve lost the football matches, and then amongst that the EFL and the PFA have sent out the twice-weekly Covid tests.
“Ours arrived yesterday [Monday], but Harrogate only got theirs today. It’s amazing the position it puts managers in, and good will to Simon [Weaver] because if he didn’t have any ethics about him he could have quite easily left that and tested his players after the match.
“Although we have stringent emails coming out we’re pretty much left to our own devices as to how we operate as people. They’ve had their tests today for tonight’s game, we had ours yesterday, and the results are what they are.”
Clearly frustrated by the situation, he added: “We do talk about distractions and if I looked at my squad at half ten on Monday morning it was as strong as I could hope. By half two it was in a completely different place.
“JJ Kayode’s knee is a little bit sore, hopefully he’ll recover for Saturday. He tried training with us on Monday but he struggled with it after about 10 or 15 minutes, and we could see he wasn’t quite right.
“It’s the same leg he hurt at the start of the season that wasn’t that bad, it was a little grade one problem with his medial ligament if you remember, so he’s probably just feeling it - ironically by resting for a couple of days.
“Sometimes it’s the case that when you keep something moving you don’t feel it, and as soon as you stop it starts to ache. I think it’s a bit of that for JJ, but we’ll see.”
“With the Covid testing we actually had three positive tests, so they didn’t make the squad. It’ll become pretty obvious, won’t it, when you see the team sheet and people aren’t here as to who it is.
“It’s horrendous because them lads have behaved themselves. I’ve got players on the phone telling me – honestly gaffer, all I’ve done is go home, get the train back to the north east, spend time with my family, I’ve not been out the house, come back to training on Monday and here we are, I’ve got it.
“We had tests last Thursday, the proper EFL ones that are sent off and come back, and everybody was fine with them. We’re doing the 20 minutes tests and I know they aren’t 100% accurate, but they give you knowledge of who may or may not have the virus.
“As I say, I had the three lads test positive then another ring me this morning who is showing symptoms. That means he can’t travel. Gav Skelton spoke to Nigel [Clibbens] and Nigel is supportive of the games going on, because that’s what the EFL want to do.
“So, wow, it is what it is. It’s the Government protocol now of 10 days for these players. That meant they’d miss three games, but the call off here means it’s now two.”
“In terms of it being a disruption, it’s not just the fact that we’re now without them as players,” he continued. “Things like this pose personal opinions – we have people who have partners at home who are pregnant, one of our players lives with their in-laws who are very old, and there are different things out there that are affecting players’ minds.
“Then we’re doing these tests and from a purely football point of view, prior to going out to train you’ve got these 20 minutes Covid tests to do, and they determine who can actually be available. So you may have planned for a game, but by the time you’ve had your tests and your training session, such as that is, it’s all changed again.
“This isn’t Chris Beech moaning this is just Chris Beech saying this is exactly how it is. We’re thankful we’re in a position where we can go to work and try to do that work, but we’ve got to be mindful of the competition itself, and the quality of the competition to be able to fight what you want to try to fight for, which is three points on what you would hope was a level playing field.
“It’s so difficult, but I suppose if you look at finance and budget, we’re below a level playing field anyway, so we’re always fighting up. All I’ll say is that we will do our best within the current situation to give our best.
“That’s just the way I’m made and thankfully the players we’ve recruited are very honest. That’s good because it would be a right minefield trying to get a team together if they weren’t like this. They’re respectful of the position we’re in and we try our best to represent Carlisle to the best of our abilities, whatever else is going on.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Chris Beech on iFollow United now.
Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.