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Two new cases but Hoops are on course


Jack Byrne

Jack Byrne

Jack Byrne

Shamrock Rovers expect to have their full squad available for their next league game tomorrow week even though two more Hoops players have tested positive for Covid-19.

And it's likely that League of Ireland clubs will be asked, but not instructed, by the FAI to see out the season without any more postponements related to coronavirus.

Last week Rovers were successful in an appeal to the FAI to have their next three games postponed after two players, Jack Byrne and Aaron Greene, tested positive for Covid.

The fact that six other players were deemed to be close contacts of Greene, and thus forced to isolate for 10 days, unable to train as well as play matches, would have left Stephen Bradley without eight players for last Friday's planned game at home to Derry City, where Graham Burke would also have been missing through suspension.

Rovers, who need just one win from the last four league games to secure the Premier Division title, have to play those four matches in a 13-day spell from next Wednesday.

The fact that two more players have tested positive is an added complication.

But the unnamed duo will have completed their 10-day isolation spell next Monday and are eligible to rejoin the squad ahead of the Derry game two days later.

The league's governing body, the National League Executive Committee, last week discussed adopting UEFA's rule on postponements for Covid reasons, where teams are obliged to fulfil a fixture, no matter how many players are absent due to Covid, once they have 14 registered players available for the game.

The FAI board last night discussed introducing that rule into the league for the remainder of the season but, fearful of objections from clubs forced to play without their Covid-related absentees who could point out precedents where games were postponed, it's thought the league will continue to assess Covid matters on a case by case basis. The Premier Division campaign is due to finish on November 8.