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Notts County sees request to NOT play two matches gets turned down by National League

Notts County sees a request of theirs to NOT play two matches gets turned down by the National League amid the squad being in ‘crisis’.

Nottinghamshire Live state that head coach Ian Burchnall wanted to postpone Tuesday’s match against Stockport County due to injury and illness.

The league organisation also told the Magpies they must play Saturday’s fixture away at Dagenham & Redbridge, despite there being no sign of their situation getting any easier.

A number of players were said to have been physically sick during and after their 3-0 loss at Edgeley Park, and straight after the midweek defeat, Burchnall was seen looking rather unhappy with the situation his club find themselves in.

He didn’t blame his players’ performance, said many of them weren’t fit to play the full 90 and that he even thought about playing assistant coach Michael Doyle while putting striker Kyle Wootton into defence.

“We placed a request for the Stockport and Dagenham games to be postponed based on the number of players we had who were unavailable, either through illness, sickness or injury,” said Burchnall.

“We were down to 12 players training on Monday but the league regulations state that if we had 11 players available, and that included those we could recall from loans and Doyle, who is registered as a player and counted in that cohort, we met the criteria for the game to go ahead.

“But the reality was that we didn’t have one fit, well defender. We had conversations on Monday about what to do if they were all too unwell to play and we were talking about Wootton or Matty Palmer playing in central defence!”

“I have to stress that Stockport were absolutely outstanding, comfortably the best team in the league I have seen, and you want to go there with your full complement to give yourself the best possible opportunity,” he went on to add.

“As good as Stockport were I knew we were up against it. We sent in the postponement request and it was rejected. We then had the decision to make: do we try to get these players through this game and see if we can dig a result out, or play Doyle and recall Knight, as our other player on loan, Tyreace Palmer, is currently unavailable

“It was a case of playing a very odd looking team of those who were fit, with the likes of Wootton and Palmer in defence, or asking some of those who were ill to play. Of course it made it a challenging game and all the harder because Stockport were so good. It’s been a very difficult 48 hours, with the decisions we have had to make, but the players really dug in and gave everything they had against a very good team and I admire them for that.”

“We didn’t think that was the right thing to do,” he said on the thought of forfeiting the game. “We did the best with the hand we had and the really important thing is that we try to recover everyone as best we can for the weekend.”

Questioned if it was fair that in a professional league games should go ahead if a team is struggling to make up a starting 11, Burchnall said: “It’s strange, because if we had made this request six weeks ago, the game would never go ahead. We had games called off earlier in the season but I made it clear then that we will do everything we can to play, and we did. We had Wrexham at home, when we had only two fit, healthy subs on the bench, but we were prepared to do everything we could to play the game, despite many saying we should call it off.

“We didn’t, and we have done that the whole way through. The club has continued with the protocols to keep everyone as healthy as possible but I felt at the start of this week we were really struggling and we looked for some support in that and we didn’t get it.

“Four to six weeks ago there is no question that game would be off. I’m not taking anything away from Stockport, but I think it is important to let people know where we were at this week.”

Burchnall reckons the guidelines, used by the EFL – and the National League during the tip of the Covid pandemic – should go back to having 11 players and three substitutes available for games to be able to play out.

“I think the league should have reviewed the situation and made a sensible decision but they didn’t. We can only put forward all the evidence of what has happened internally and they should know that it’s the first time we have asked for anything this season.

“This was genuinely a problem for us, we put it forward but it was knocked straight back. It would make sense to stay with the old rule but we don’t control that. We have been as frank and open as possible but we didn’t feel we got what we needed.”

The one more uplifting bit of news coming out is that Richard Brindley and Jim O’Brien are back on the training ground. “We may have some extra bodies back for the weekend, which will be a massive boost,” added Burchnall.

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