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'It's a very big worry' - Ireland women's squad affected by Covid-19 ahead of Germany qualifier

While none of Vera Pauw’s squad have tested positive for coronavirus yet, a number have been ruled out of the final group game.

Ireland manager Vera Pauw.
Ireland manager Vera Pauw.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND WOMEN’S TEAM manager Vera Pauw says the threat of Covid-19 is “a very big worry” as they prepare to take on Germany. 

The Girls in Green face the nation ranked second in the world at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday, 1 December, and still hold a slim hope of qualifying for the 2022 Uefa European Championships.

After the bitterly disappointing 1-0 defeat to Ukraine last month, Ireland must overcome the Germans — who boast a 100% record, 37 goals scored in six matches and have yet to even concede in the current qualifying campaign — or hope that the Ukrainians slip up against bottom-placed Montenegro on the same day. 

Vauw has delayed announcing her finalised squad until later this evening or tomorrow morning, as she awaits late confirmation on a number of players. 

London City Lionesses pair Alli Murphy and Hayley Nolan miss out as they have been deemed close contacts after two club mates and a member of staff contracted the virus, which resulted in Wednesday’s Continental Tyres League Cup fixture with Chelsea being postponed. 

American-born striker Kyra Carusa has not been permitted to travel due to Covid-19 regulations as she is based in Denmark with HB Koge, while Birmingham City defender Harriet Scott is aiming to arrive in later in the week when she completes university commitments.  

Experienced centre-half Louise Quinn didn’t travel to Dublin after a staff member at Fiorentina produced a positive test, but it is thought that she will be able to link up with the group on Tuesday. 

Brighton’s Megan Connolly, meanwhile, is unavailable due to concussion protocols. 

“It’s a very big worry,” said Dutch coach Pauw during today’s video briefing.

“We already have Alli Murphy and Hayley Nolan who are ruled out immediately, not because they have Covid but because other players do. They cannot come into camp and will have to do 14 days of isolation.

“Louise Quinn is hoping to get on the plane on Tuesday. They [Fiorentina] had a staff case in Italy so she needs to sit in the bubble with her team. Fortunately, they can train but they cannot see anyone else. If everything goes well, she comes in on Tuesday.

“Harriet Scott cannot come into camp early because of her university demands, but there is also a Covid case around her so we’re not sure if she needs to isolate herself.

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“Kyra Curusa is in Denmark and, as we all know, nobody can travel from Denmark to Ireland. We do not have the permission to get her exempted so she is ruled out.

So we’re very much affected even though we haven’t had one case in our squad. Not one player has been infected so far and we are very proud of that but we rely on others.”

The entire squad will be tested tomorrow and, after seeing the men’s team badly hit by the virus, Pauw says everything is being done to avoid a similar situation.  

soccer-laenderspiel-women-germany-ireland Germany head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg and the Ireland players standing for the national anthems when the sides met in September. Source: DPA/PA Images

Germany have already qualified for the finals and face Greece on Friday before playing Ireland four days later. 

Head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg stated this week that none of her players will play the full 90 minutes in both games if at all possible, as it wouldn’t be fair on their clubs at a time when fixtures are piling up.

However, Pauw does not believe that taking on a much-changed team would be a significant advantage, given the array of talent at Germany’s disposal.  

“We don’t know [who they will play],” Pauw added. “We need to see what turns up. They first play Greece at home and then they fly to Ireland. It depends on her choices. We need to see.

“Usually it [rotating their squad] doesn’t bring the performance down. They have a few exceptional qualities in the team, which for us would be a benefit if they don’t play but if new players come in they will feel they have a chance and for them it will be a final.

I will deal with our squad and the qualities they have. With the staff, we are setting up all the options to prepare as well as we can and then we will see.

“Their structure will never change as they always play the same way, whichever players are playing.”

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Ben Blake

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