Rotherham United waiting on EFL Covid test kits

Paul WarnePaul Warne
Paul Warne
A ROUND of EFL-approved testing at Rotherham United’s training ground will decide if the Millers have enough Covid-free players to fulfil Saturday’s Boxing Day fixture at Accrington Stanley.

The players returned to Roundwood yesterday (Wednesday) after being given two days off amid a global surge in coronavirus cases caused by the new Omicron variant.

The EFL-sanctioned test kits hadn’t arrived and manager Paul Warne is hoping they come today.

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The first-team squad trained as normal outside with nobody showing any signs of illness, although strict protocols are in place about contact indoors.

Many clubs have already had to call off games because of Covid outbreaks in their camp but so far Rotherham have remained relatively unscathed and only two of Warne’s staff members have been suffering from the disease this week.

“The EFL want tests to be uniform across all their clubs so the testing can’t begin until everybody gets sent their new equipment,” the boss said.

“We already have lateral-flow kits at the training ground but we can’t use them. We need the EFL ones.

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“All the lads and staff will be tested daily once the standardised kit comes through.”

Players who return a negative result from the EFL lateral-flow tests will be eligible for the trip to Accrington. Any who are positive will have to self-isolate and take a more definitive PCR test. If their PCR outcome is also positive they must remain in quarantine for up to ten days.

Sometimes a PCR test comes back negative after a lateral-flow positive verdict, which has been the case with two other non-playing staff in the last seven days.

The EFL, who are insisting on more stringent anti-Covid procedures at all clubs in a bid to combat the crisis, say 14 fit players including a goalkeeper is the requirement for a match to go ahead.

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Meanwhile, Warne is concerned at the short window for any PCR tests to be sent off and analysed by the EFL.

“To get a PCR turnaround in time for the match on Boxing Day is going to be tough.” he said.

A player taking a PCR test whose result didn’t come back before December 26 would have to sit out the Accrington clash.

Until the new clampdown, clubs had to test only people who reported Covid symptoms. Under the tighter rules, the aim is for squads to be tested every day if enough EFL kits are available.

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Warne says that more than 85 per cent of Rotherham’s players and playing staff have been vaccinated.

 

‘IT’S GOOD TO KEEP PLAYING’

PAUL Warne has welcomed the EFL’s decision not to call a blanket halt to matches in the face of the growing number of Covid cases.

The governing body have opted against a ‘circuit-breaker’ in a bid to slow down the spread of infections and the Rotherham United manager said: “I’m happy games are going ahead.”

However, he admitted that results will be distorted by clubs not being able to field full-strength sides.

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“Some teams, through nobody’s fault, are going to come out of it luckier than others,” he said.

“Some will get to play against another team who have lost a lot of their best players to Covid.

“Also, you might have 14 players available but that could include six or seven midfielders and no strikers because all your frontmen are isolating.”

 

WHAT THE EFL SAY

“Clubs will be expected to implement a daily screening programme of testing, subject to supply chain availability of lateral-flow tests. Any person with a positive test will then be required to take a PCR test and isolate in line with Government guidance.

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“In the wake of recent EFL fixture postponements due to Covid case, the EFL confirm that clubs will be expected to play where they have 14 players including a goalkeeper available.

“On vaccination, the EFL are encouraging all eligible players and staff to get fully vaccinated and a booster jab to help protect colleagues and minimise the risk of fixtures being postponed.”