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McKenna: Covid Situation a Challenge
Thursday, 6th Jan 2022 17:10

New boss Kieran McKenna admits that the current Covid situation has added a challenge to his early days in management with two of the Blues’ last three matches having succumbed to positive tests at their opposition clubs.

The festive fixture programme was decimated by postponed games due to Covid with Town’s trip to Gillingham - which has been rescheduled for Saturday - and Lincoln City’s visit to Portman Road among them.

In addition to matches being off, players and staff are continuing to have to work within protocols and are regularly tested.

The Blues go into Saturday's game at Gillingham with McKenna having said that there has been "no illness in the group over the last week or so".

However, he admits the ongoing situation isn't ideal: “It’s a challenge. Obviously there’s a big uncertainty around everything at the moment. In our world, in football, it’s an uncertainty around games first of all - will a game be played at the weekend?

“But it’s an uncertainty day to day because we’re daily testing and every morning you’re waiting to see, hoping we come through it all clear, hopefully nobody has caught the virus.

“So you’re waiting a little bit longer every day on your numbers and to find out who is available.

“That creates a bit of uncertainty and makes planning a bit more of a challenge. But the club have been really good with supporting us with that, so that’s been manageable.

“It’s a challenge really in terms of probably the physical environment. We want a spirit, we want the players to be close together in the dressing room, be close together in the canteen.

“We have a lovely canteen, a nice pool table, we want them to be able to enjoy it and relax in each other’s company and obviously at the moment we have to be careful, there are a lot of protocols in place and they have to keep distance.

“We’re split over different dressing rooms, there are limitations on how long they can spend here in the afternoon and on eating meals together.

“There are limitations in place that make it more difficult to have the close connections and the close spirit that you want throughout the day, but it’s for a good reason.

“Obviously the most important thing at the moment is health and stopping any spread. Thanks to good protocols and good work by the medical team here we’ve managed to stop a big outbreak as such.

“So that’s been a positive and so long as that’s the case, I think everyone understands that it’s a different world that we’re living in at the moment and we have to sacrifice some things, and the most important thing is that we can get training sessions on and we can get games on and go out and try and represent the club on matchdays.”

Last week the EFL announced that it was dropping matchday testing in order to reduce the number of postponements, specifically those made in the hours before kick-off.

“I understand that they have challenges,” McKenna reflected when quizzed on that decision. “The challenge at the moment is that we need to protect health, we need to protect players and the staff but also the players are paid to play football matches, the coaches and managers are paid to prepare teams and we want matches to be on.

“At the moment, I know everyone’s working really hard to find that middle ground. I don’t think anyone knows what the right or wrong is, I don’t think there is a right or wrong, it’s about finding that middle ground of protecting health but also continuing with our daily lives and our routine where possible.

“We’re lucky that our daily routine involves football training and football matches, so we want that to go ahead.

“Obviously the EFL are working really hard to adjust their policies as and when to what they think is appropriate and we support them with that as a club and back them on that and we go along with the guidance.

“At the moment, thankfully, we’ve managed to keep things just about under control here, but we know it’s a careful balancing act and we can’t drop our guard too far.

“It’s a difficult situation, I think everyone’s doing their best, everyone wants football to go ahead and we’re trying our best to make that happen.”

On call-offs made close to kick-off, he added: “We’ve had a couple of games called off but nothing too late, so with so many fans going down there [to Gillingham on Saturday, 2,100], we hope the game can go ahead, it’s going to be a great occasion.

“We haven’t had an away game for a few weeks now, everyone’s had their Christmas at home and hopefully the fans are looking forward to travelling and seeing the game played, so it’ll be nice to see everyone there on Saturday giving good support to the team and hopefully staying safe as well.”

Photo: Matchday Images

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