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Manager admits ‘turning a blind eye’ to fielding three unwell players after positive Covid tests

One particular manager admits ‘turning a blind eye’ to fielding three unwell players after the trio tested positive to Covid tests recently.

Connah’s Quay Nomads, who play in the Cymru Premier, have denied breaching coronavirus protocol after their manager Andy Morrison claimed they were suffering from stomach ache and toothache.

Three members of the team were pulled out of their squad for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League qualifier against Georgian side Dinamo Tbilisi after testing positive for coronavirus with a fourth player self-isolating after showing symptoms.

Morrison revealed after their 1-0 defeat that three more players were told to play despite feeling ill, later claiming on Twitter they were suffering from ‘Bombay trots’ and ‘flatulence trapped wind.’

His comments led to criticism from the Welsh Conservatives shadow health minister Andrew RT Davies, who was left ‘dumbfounded’ the match went ahead.

Morrison said: “Three lads have turned up tonight and they’re not well.

“And it’s like, lads, I don’t want to hear it. I can’t hear it tonight that you’re ill… let’s just get through it.”

“I’ve been told that before the game and we’ve had to turn a blind eye to it and then you would have never noticed that anyone there tonight wasn’t feeling great.”

After being questioned on social media later that day, Morrison said the three players “passed all protocol” and were “just not themselves.”

Morrison then said that two of the players were suffering from stomach problems – described as ‘Bombay trots’ and ‘flatulence trapped wind’ – while another had ‘toothache’.

In another Twitter reply, Morrison said one had a ‘headache’ and another ‘Deli [sic] belly]. 

He added: ‘As a manager you turn a blind eye on match day – your [sic] not interest there’s a game of football to be played.’

The club insist they followed all UEFA Covid-19 protocol and that Morrison’s comments had been ‘misconstrued’.

A club statement read: ‘We would like to go on record and say that this is categorically untrue and that what the manager was referring to was a number of players who may not have played had we had a fully fit squad.

‘Morrison clarified this in a tweet on his own personal Twitter account, indicating that a number of players had suffered from isolated pre-match upset stomach and headaches likely down to nerves due to being thrust into the starting lineup.’

However, ‘headache’ and ‘diarrhoea’ are both listed by the World Health Organization among ‘less common’ Covid-19 symptoms.  

Politicians criticised the club with shadow health minister Davies saying ‘drastic’ action was needed if Morrison’s comments were correct.

“You are left pretty dumbfounded to be honest with you that when those symptoms are showing, that a match went ahead where there is considerable personal interaction just by the very nature of playing football,” he told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

“Obviously I’d have to wait to find out more information, but if the manager’s comments are correct then something drastic needs to happen here to make sure that safeguards are put in place that you can’t overrule the obvious symptoms and just play a match that could potentially spread to the wider community the virus affects.”

Wrexham said they were content Connah’s Quay stuck to all protocols while using the Racecourse Ground with no players displaying any symptoms during a pre-match medical screening.

A statement read: “The club received a message from medical representatives of Connah’s Quay Nomads, confirming they had adhered to all protocols.

“This was forwarded to the relevant authorities and, based on the contents of that message, the decision was taken by the relevant authorities to allow the game to go ahead.”

The ground was planned to have a deep clean before their own players returned next week. 

Since the comments were made, the club have put out a statement clarifying that the further illnesses reported to them were not Covid-related.

They said: “In a post-match interview with various media outlets, Manager, Andy Morrison used the term ‘turned a blind eye’ which has unfortunately been misconstrued by many to mean that as a club we ignored Covid regulations.

“We would like to go on record and say that this is categorically untrue and that what the manager was referring to was a number of players who may not have played had we had a fully fit squad.

“Morrison clarified this in a tweet on his own personal Twitter account, indicating that a number of players had suffered from isolated pre-match upset stomach and headaches likely down to nerves due to being thrust into the starting lineup of such a high profile fixture.”

In relation to the match, the FAW said it is “satisfied” all covid protocols were followed in order for the game to go ahead.

“As a result of the mandatory UEFA testing under their COVID-19 protocols for European competitions, it was confirmed that three Connah’s Quay Nomads players tested positive for the virus and were isolated from the rest of the squad,” the statement said.

“One further player was identified as being in contact with those that had received a positive result and was immediately told to self-isolate at home and is now awaiting a further test for the virus.

“The club’s doctor followed the national guidance and informed the relevant health authorities where the players reside to allow track and trace procedures to be implemented.”

It said it was “further satisfied” the club followed the advice of Public Health Wales and the UEFA protocols in order for the match to go ahead as scheduled once the positive tests had been confirmed.

“In accordance with both FAW and UEFA protocols, the squad, staff and officials completed daily medical questionnaires prior to matchday and on matchday itself,” the FAW added.

“The UEFA stadium entry procedures were also completed, which included a further temperature test and the negative COVID-19 result paperwork.

“The Racecourse Ground and Wrexham AFC ensured that the venue was COVID-19 compliant and a safe environment for all those in attendance at the stadium.

“In addition, the FAW and UEFA had delegates at the match to ensure protocols were being followed.”

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