‘Safety of everyone at club is the major consideration’

Neil Thompson has spoken of how the COVID-19 outbreak hit Wednesday at the start of this week and has caused major disruption at the club.

Caretaker manager Thompson, along with temporary assistants Lee Bullen and Steven Haslam and a significant number of club staff, have all returned positive coronavirus tests and the three coaches will miss the FA Cup tie at Exeter tomorrow.

The Middlewood Road training ground also remains closed, severely hampering preparations for the cup match.

Talking at today’s press conference, held via Zoom, Thompson said: “Above all else, the safety of everyone at the football club is the major consideration. When this hits you, reality sets in a little bit.

“We have been really good at the club in terms of the infections, the protocols have been in place but obviously this has spread very quickly.”

He added: “Of course I’m really disappointed not to be in the dugout for the cup tie at Exeter this weekend, very frustrated, but the safety and health of everybody at the club is the main priority. Making sure everyone is safe is the most important thing.

“The players have shown so much character. This is another big hurdle for the boys to overcome. Sometimes you can find these moments galvanise everyone. The lads will be tested again this morning and the trip will be as safe as possible.

“I feel now as though I’m coming through a bad cold in the winter and as far as I’m aware, nobody at the club is suffering too much with symptoms.”

Thompson said he hoped the training ground could be open again by next Wednesday, in preparation for the following Saturday’s trip to Coventry. He added that the hamstring injury which forced Josh Windass off during the New Year’s Day win over Derby might not be as serious as first thought but he could not give any indication as to a return to action date for the striker.

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