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Shamrock Rovers defender Roberto Lopes to miss crunch clash with Dundalk because of quarantine rules

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Shamrock Rovers defender Roberto Lopes. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Shamrock Rovers defender Roberto Lopes. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Shamrock Rovers defender Roberto Lopes. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Roberto Lopes' international career has come at a cost to Shamrock Rovers as the Cape Verde Islands defender will miss Friday's key league game against Dundalk after being forced into quarantine.

Dubliner Lopes, who is eligible for Cape Verde through his father, made his competitive debut for that nation last week when they beat Cameroon 3-1 at home to qualify for the African Nations Cup finals.

But 'Pico' Lopes sat out the second match of the double header, away to Mozambique, because Rovers were already aware of quarantine issues related to Covid-19 so they recalled him to Ireland, and he is currently in isolation in a hotel in Dublin.

Lopes now has to skip the clash with Dundalk - who had two of their players on senior international duty, with Latvia and the Faroe Islands - and will only be able to rejoin the squad for training next week.

"He's an international player. That's what comes with it. It's not ideal. He's a top player, last year, for me he was the best centre-half in the country. It's international football, back when he declared for Cape Verde we knew this would be an issue," manager Stephen Bradley said today.

"I think over the last period of 10 days or two weeks he's had four, maybe five negative tests. It is what it is, there's nothing we can do, the rules are the rules. Thankfully his manager and the Cape Verde FA were really understanding of our position, and the deal was just to allow him play the Cameroon game and fly straight out.

"We had to get him back early with the schedule in mind, April is busy. If we'd left him there it would probably have been mid-April before we got him back.

"We knew quite quickly but he was already on the way and we tried to sort it straight away, but you have to respect the player as well. It's an international, it would be like saying to Graham Burke I don't want you playing for your country. For me that's not right, you can't do that, you can't deny a player that sort of opportunity.

"When we spoke to Pico, he was willing to do whatever we needed him to do but I felt it was important he went and played the game, it was his first start, against Cameroon, if they win it they have a massive chance of qualifying.

"We had a good conversation between us all and we all felt it was the right thing for him to play the [Cameroon] game, although he was going to miss this week for us," added Bradley, concerned that Lopes' isolation in a hotel restricts his ability to train.

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"It's difficult, he's a very professional, fit fella and he hasn't been able to stay on top of that so even if he got out today or tomorrow you couldn't play him, he's been sat in a hotel for over a week which is not ideal but what can we do?"

Rovers are back in action tomorrow after a break as last week's game against Derry City was called off - needlessly as it happened - due to a call-up for Derry's Northern Ireland keeper Nathan Gartside.

He was ultimately unable to hook up with Ian Baraclough's side due to an issue, labelled an "administrative error" by the club, over giving advance notification to UEFA on medication which Gartside takes for a heart condition but by the time that was made known and he was out of the Northern Ireland squad, it was too late to refix the Derry-Rovers game.

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