Dundalk manager Vinny Perth. Tommy Dickson/INPHO
positive cases

Dundalk squad hit with Covid outbreak ahead of European tie

‘We have some issues in our own camp in relation to Covid which has broken in the last couple of hours,’ said manager Vinny Perth.

DUNDALK FC’S PREPARATIONS for their Europa Conference League first qualifying round first leg tie with Newtown AFC on Thursday evening have been thrown into disarray by an outbreak of Covid-19 in the camp.

While there is no danger of the game not taking place, test results this morning uncovered a number of positive cases in the squad.

While the Co Louth side have not yet revealed exact numbers or the identity of those impacted, it is understood that there have been three positive test results with one inconclusive.

Fortunately, for Vinny Perth none of the cases relate to the group of players living locally in houses together, which could have spiralled the number of close contacts.

Nevertheless, the 44-year-old – who only returned as Lilywhites head coach last month – admits that some of his plans for the tie have had to be torn up as a result of the positive cases.

“It’s been difficult, obviously. We have some issues in our own camp in relation to Covid which has broken in the last couple of hours.

“When we all arrived at the ground this morning the only players I had out were Brian Gartland and Dan Cleary so I’m waiting for an update from our doctor at the moment in terms of who’s available. We’ve got some issues around that but we won’t release any names at the moment because that is personal to the people involved.

“There is some Covid issues within our squad. It’s very early to give definite numbers on it but we do have some issues. Our doctor is in contact with the players. They haven’t attended training today and they’ve been told to stay at home until we clear it up.

“Over the next number of hours I’ll get clarity on that but there’s no doubt that we’ll have some players missing the game tomorrow due to Covid.”

Perth admitted he was shocked at the positive test results with none of those affected showing any symptoms.

“We had worked on a lot of shape and phases of play yesterday as normal and we’ve had to change that drastically today but it’s the world we live in. We have to accept it. Covid is rampant in our community and particularly in people aged between 17 and 30 so a lot of footballers fall into that category.

“I think this is just the beginning of it in terms of, if sports teams are going to be tested, I think you’ll find numbers are going to be quite high in that sort of age group.”

Welsh side Newtown will also be without up to four players due to a Covid outbreak of their own and Perth said the uncertainty had made the game difficult to prepare for.

“I understand the favourites’ tag and I’m not trying to belittle that in anyway but I think we’re in a difficult situation. The Dundalk of 2019 and 2020 would have been definite favourites for this tie but it’s very hard to know too much about them.

“There’s a lack of information on the opposition because they haven’t played in so long and they haven’t had loads of pre-season friendlies. Obviously Covid issues on both sides of the water haven’t helped but we’ve done a huge amount of work in terms of off the field.

“They’ve got some good players, we’ve got a limited amount of video but we’ve watched it and prepared as best as we can. The team is in a difficult position because of all those issues but we’re ready for the game.”

Aside from the Covid cases, Greg Sloggett is a doubt for the Lilywhites having limped out of Friday’s 3-1 defeat away to Shamrock Rovers.

Kick-off for the game on Thursday is at 5.45pm with the match being streamed on at a cost of €10.

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