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Judge: Break Could Have an Impact
Friday, 8th Jan 2021 13:27

Tomorrow’s home clash with Swindon could take its toll on the Town players after a Covid outbreak at Portman Road left them without a game in almost four weeks.

That is the view of midfielder Alan Judge, one of eight players who tested positive for the virus and who confessed: “The club have been good, just breaking us in when we returned to training.

“I’m an asthmatic and I think I’ve been lucky, but it’s not just the guys who have had the virus who will feel it tomorrow.

“One thing about it is that I’m sleeping a lot more, which is good, but I don’t think any of us will know how the break has affected us until we have 90 minutes of intense football.

“Even the lads who didn’t test positive, but haven’t had a game in 25 days, will feel it. That’s a long time without playing.”

Judge has pinpointed two positives about the enforced break – the bonus of having eight injured players close to making their comebacks, along with the fact that despite Town’s inactivity they remain in seventh place in League One, only goal difference denying them a coveted top-six place.

He added: “We just have to be careful with the guys who are on their way back. Some – and I’m including myself here – have come back too soon and got injured again.

“They are big players for us and we have to be careful. We’ve missed the likes of Flynn Downes and James Norwood but they’re back on the grass and looking good. We’re all looking forward to all the injured guys coming back.

“The teams around us haven’t really capitalised on us not playing. To find ourselves seventh without eight players who would probably be in and around a starting place in the team, I think we’re doing okay.”

Ipswich head physiotherapist Matt Byard recently called for a circuit breaker – a gap without any professional football – to help prevent players contracting the virus, but it’s an idea that does not appeal to Judge.

He explained: “Personally – and I can only speak for myself – I don’t think we should take a break. If we take, say, a two-week break we’re still going to have players training and there will still be contact with each other.

“I know it might reduce the number of cases somewhere along the way but, generally, the players who test negative are still going to be training, while those who test positive will be self-isolating.

“I don’t see the point of a break. If you catch it early enough – and I know that’s easier said than done – we should just carry on. A two-week break, for me, wouldn’t make any difference.”

Asked if he felt that would be the majority view among his fellow pros, Judge replied: “No, probably not. I think they would be thinking ‘We’ve got families’, which everybody does. Some of them might have children who have health issues and they would feel they couldn’t afford to put themselves out there in case they get the virus and especially now that there’s a new variant that they’re saying transmits more quickly.

“But I can only say that I’m happy to play on. Obviously, I’ve had it, but with the symptoms I had I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones.

“I got it but it wasn’t too bad. To carry on playing will keep me sane and I think there will be other players, and definitely a lot of fans, that will feel the same.”

Judge was pleased to see the Professional Players’ Association [PFA] intervene this week and agree to fund the cost of twice-weekly Covid tests for all EFL players, starting Monday, and he added: “The PFA are doing what they think is right for their members, so they are driving it forward. League One and League Two games were getting called off for a few weeks but all of a sudden, when Premier League games started to be called off, that was a problem and that’s the thing for me.

“Do we not matter? We’ve got families too and that’s what annoyed me. We should have been getting tested when the second wave of the virus came in November or even before that. I don’t understand why it took so long to make the decision to test.”

Does he think professional footballers should be higher priority when it comes to vaccines? “That’s a very difficult question, especially when there are a lot more vulnerable people out there,” he said.

“I saw what [Burnley manager] Sean Dyche said yesterday and I thought it made great sense what he was saying but I would find it hard to put us ahead of people who are in more desperate need of it.”

Finally, having tested positive, Judge was able to have more family time over Christmas, something that is usually in short supply at that time of the year thanks to a busy fixture schedule.

But he admitted: “Christmas is my actually my favourite time for playing football and that’s not something every player will say. It was weird having Christmas off and for a lot of the time I didn’t know what to do with myself.”

Photo: Matchday Images

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Bluearmy_81 added 13:59 - Jan 8
Et em in early, that's the way...

Europablue added 14:05 - Jan 8
Here was me taking the break as a positive to get some fitness back. Of course you lose match sharpness, but it does kind of feel like getting the excuses in early.

naenormalblues added 14:25 - Jan 8
Totally agree, reported that many athletes who’ve had it really struggle getting out of breath straight away once they return.

For the majority of the past 25 days we’ve not been able to train too so “getting the excuses in early” is a dumb comment

Europablue added 14:59 - Jan 8
naenormalblues the way I understood it was that he was talking about the whole team, and not just the players who were ill. Also he said that he is against a two-week break for the whole league, if he was really worried about the after-effects of the virus he might be for more time to recover, but his whole argument appears to be that the more time off players take, the less match fit they will be, so yes it does sound a bit like getting the excuses in, and no it was not a dumb comment.

ArnieM added 15:00 - Jan 8
Well historically Town are ALWAYS crap after a break, and whenever we are live in Sky .

So having had a month off games and on Sky AND numerous previously long term injured players coming back from injury , ALL ring rusty , I’d say the odds are pretty much stacked against us Saturday would you !

Prove me wrong Town please .......

Wallingford_Boy added 15:14 - Jan 8
Or Alan, another way of looking at it is that its been a hectic schedule so far this season and our squad has had the benefit of resting for a few weeks. So will come back tomorrow fresh and raring to go! Maybe..

Bert added 15:19 - Jan 8
..... yes Arnie, you are right, our ducks are certainly lined up in a row but not a row that historically brings results. Let's all hope that history does not repeat itself and we play consistently well preferably with speed and passion but as Judge has said, without an atmosphere all clubs are now tending to play out from the back because there's no pressure from the fans. Weird but right.

Westy added 15:58 - Jan 8
I really don't like players getting excuses lined up before matches. If not too few matches the excuse is too many. He has sowed the seed of negativity before the game has even started.

dirtydingusmagee added 16:51 - Jan 8
he feels ok and says he wasnt too bad, but it will be used as an excuse if he has a poor game, and lets be honest he has been far from getting rave reviews.

TractorCam added 17:18 - Jan 8
Stuart Taylor has been quoted today saying that last week's Fleetwood postponement has helped prepare more for this game.

So which is it? Stuart's positive or Alan's negative? If we lose both look very ridiculous, can we please win?

Saxonblue74 added 17:29 - Jan 8
I don't see this as pre-emptive excuses. Its bound to have an effect but what AJ has done is answer questions that have been put to him. This seems to happen a lot in football, the media ask a question to provoke reaction then fans criticise. These are professional sportsmen and illness/down time is bound to have an impact. I'm not expecting big things tomorrow, just 3 points by doing whatever it takes.

Saxonblue74 added 17:30 - Jan 8
Tractorcam, its helped in the sense we have bought some time for injured players. It's been a hindrance for those who were already match fit.

istanblue added 18:46 - Jan 8
ITFC: We need a break to help get our injured players back to fitness.

Also ITFC: The break will take its toll on the players.

Banter FC back again!

LWNR2013 added 18:54 - Jan 8
Any doubts of a player’s fitness then he shouldn’t play. Simple. I can except reasons, not excuses. But then again who cares what I can except.

BcarefulwhatUWish4 added 19:05 - Jan 8
Not much different for Swindon Town- who have basically played one game during that period.

TR11BLU added 09:31 - Jan 9
Accrington found it was no burden last night
Similar break, smaller and arguably less talented squad
Maybe these players should concentrate on the football
We'll see

blues1 added 13:07 - Jan 9
Bcarefulwhatuwish4. No, Swindon havent played many games, but none of their players have had covid. And that is the issue here. No1 k ows how those players will react when theyre playing the game. So put that together with players,who havent played for 4 weeks, and thus also not match fit, then this is not a case of making excuses before the game. Simply stating that it could be an issue. Hopefully it wont be tho.

blues1 added 13:12 - Jan 9
Bcarefulwhatuwish4. Oh, and btw swindon have played 3 games since we last played. Not 1

Texastom added 20:55 - Jan 9
Shut up Judge for heavens sake. Yes, get the excuses on early! You are a professional footballer, what a privilege, bit like returning to work after the weekend and saying I have had to get up early again and it will take me a while to get up to speed. Grow up.

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