Football’s on ‘cliff edge’ says Shrewsbury Town man Dave Edwards

Shrewsbury midfielder Dave Edwards has described football as being on a “cliff edge” as Town and other clubs continue to be rocked by Covid-19.

Regan Poole of Milton Keynes Dons and Dave Edwards of Shrewsbury Town (AMA)
Regan Poole of Milton Keynes Dons and Dave Edwards of Shrewsbury Town (AMA)

Steve Cotterill’s side were due to face Premier League Southampton in the third round of the FA Cup today.

But they have been unable to fulfil the fixture after several members of the squad tested positive for coronavirus.

Town are one of a number of clubs who have been ravaged by a new strain of the virus recently.

Last night, Villa had a field a team made up completely of under-23 and under-18 players in their FA Cup clash with Liverpool following a mass Covid-19 outbreak at their Bodymoor Heath training ground.

Newcastle and Manchester City have also been badly affected by Covid-19 in recent weeks.

Edwards believes strict protocols which prevent the players having much contact with each other meant training was safer prior to the new strain.

But he fears the new variant – which scientists believe could be 70 per cent more transmissible – may have led to the virus being passed between players while they are outdoors.

“We thought we were getting over the worst of it but what has happened over the last couple of weeks – it’s a really terrible time for football at the moment and it’s only going to get worse,” said Edwards who hasn’t tested posited for coronavirus.

“We are on a bit of a cliff edge.

“The training ground really has zero tolerance for anything like that (hugs, high-fives, handshakes).

“You just can’t do that stuff – all the protocols are in place.

“Social distancing, compulsory mask wearing, you have players in different rooms at different times.

“Players are scheduled to arrive at different times as well.

“It’s only once you get out on the training ground that you are actually mixing again.

“We all thought that was okay, the fact you are training outside.

“But this new strain looks like it could be transmissible, possibly through that.

“That’s the scary thing.”

The hectic schedules of both Shrewsbury and Southampton mean there is now a chance their FA Cup clash will not be played.

That would mean the Saints, managed by Ralph Hasenhüttl, receiving a bye into round-four.

That decision will be made next week by the professional game board.

And Edwards admits it’s hugely frustrating the game has had to be cancelled and may not take place.

“It’s so frustrating,” the 34-year-old continued.

“We’ve been fortunate to have some cup runs in the last few years and the money that brings into the football club is so important – even more so now with everything that’s going on at the minute.

“But it’s also great for the fans.

“To go up against Premier League opposition would have been really good for the lads.

“A lot of the players won’t have played at St Mary’s before.

“It would have been great experience for them.

“But there is no way the game could have gone ahead today.

“It would have been unfair on us as players and staff to go down there and it’s unfair on them as well.”

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