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Losing Serie A players a big problem says Slovak boss


Slovakia manager Pavel Hapal. Photo by UEFA via Sportsfile

Slovakia manager Pavel Hapal. Photo by UEFA via Sportsfile

Slovakia manager Pavel Hapal. Photo by UEFA via Sportsfile

Slovakia's manager insists that it's game on for the Euro 2020 playoff and says his side "won't cry" if they have to play Ireland in Bratislava in 13 days' time without their Italian-based players due to the strict Covid-19 conditions imposed by their government.

UEFA still have the play-off game to be played in Bratislava behind closed doors on their calendar, but the chances of the tie in Slovakia proceeding are extremely remote.

Travel to and from Slovakia is banned, and Ryanair yesterday cancelled the Dublin-Bratislava flights which had been due to carry hundreds of Ireland supporters that week.

FAI officials expect UEFA to announce on Tuesday that all four playoff ties are postponed, with the tournament possibly delayed for a year.

Aside from losing the advantage of home support in a closed stadium, Slovakia coach Pavel Hapal is unsure if the seven squad members who play club football in Italy will be available as he works off the basis the game will proceed.

"The situation changes every day. Schools are closed, all events in Slovakia and other countries are cancelled. It changes almost from hour to hour," the Slovakia manager said.

"At the moment we are all going to the game. There's no point in crying, if players are missing, it's a chance for others to come in."

Club football in Britain is shelved so Mick McCarthy's players will not get any action before the play-off date, but Slovakia's problem is more serious as their Serie A players may not even be allowed to enter Slovakia as the government has effectively sealed the border.

"I've been making phone calls to Milan Škriniar and Juraj Kucka. The most important thing is to have these players, as well as the others from Italy, available," Hapal said.

"I am optimistic and I believe that we will get them to Slovakia. Of course, it all can change and it would be a big problem if Italy did not let the players out, or if they had to go into the 14-day quarantine after arriving in Slovakia."