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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