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Warburton: Football has to play its part

MARK Warburton is aware that Football has a big role to play as we continue in the latest battle against COVID-19.

Rangers have seen their last two Sky Bet Championship fixtures postponed, with several of the first team and academy players having to isolate because of the virus and the R’s boss was keen to stress how difficult it has been but knows that the ‘health and welfare’ of everyone connected to the club is of paramount importance. 

The Super Hoops are one of many sides across English Football who have felt the impact of the virus, which a number of both Premier League and Championship games already postponed this weekend. 

Reflecting on our own situation, Warburton told www.qpr.co.uk: “We are impacted by this virus situation, there’s no doubt about that.  

“Those that have come down with it and tested positive and then there’s those who have been in close contact which is another very difficult matter to deal with. 

“But the overriding aspect must be the health and welfare of everyone at the club, and every action was taken by QPR in terms of a proactive approach to ensure a safe environment. 

“It’s been difficult, it’s Friday morning and we should be preparing for another league game against Swansea City but us along with many other clubs and players are in a difficult situation.”

Following on from Monday’s postponement of our clash with Sheffield United, the R’s were also unable to fulfil this weekend’s clash with Swansea City in W12 and the manager was keen to explain just how drastically this has impacted his squad. 

Warburton added “We have been seriously depleted, we have now closed the training ground for a couple of days to have almost a circuit break, to allow another deep clean to take place.

“The academy under the control of Chris (Ramsey) have also been closed now for a week who likewise had some positive cases, so every effort is being maintained. 

“But when we were training this week, we only had 6,7 or 8 players so that tells you where we are in terms of the depth of the squad. 

“It’s the COVID situation, from the players who have come into close contact, it’s illness from this time of year and it’s the injuries from the demands of the playing schedule.

“Those three key factors have hit the clubs and they literally cannot field teams. I am sure we aren’t alone, there are many other sides in similar situations, but we literally could not field a team.”

Heading into the weekend, five of the ten schedule Premier League fixtures had been postponed, whilst five Championship games have also been postponed including Rangers’ clash with the Swans and the R’s boss knows that football has a big part to play now.

“We are seeing coaches from all levels coming out now and saying about trying to break this cycle which we are currently having - there’s no guidelines or regulations stopping players or staff, for example, going for a coffee. 

“But we know that the transmissibility is so high on this particular strain, and we are seeing this exponential rise which will have an impact for the next few weeks at least, we have to do something. 

“Is football going to carry on, battle through this and see the fixture cancellations continue to rise or are we going to take action and look for the circuit break?

“I don’t know what the answer is, there is far more qualified people than me to find a solution. But it will put the demands on the squad, that’s for sure. 

“All I know is football has to play it’s part here, football has gone on throughout lockdown for the good of supporters and the general public and it has been magnificent in that respect. 

“But it also needs to play it’s part here now. We are very aware of the need to follow the protocols and the guidelines. At the clubs on a daily basis now we are on a red protocol and we have to make sure that message gets out to all concerned. 

“Whoever it may be, we must create the best environment for the safety of everyone going forward, the role we play in getting that message out there is vitally important.” 

Rangers welcome AFC Bournemouth to Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium in our next scheduled fixture on the 27th December and Warburton knows that there is a lot of work to do on the training field before then.

He explained: “We have a vitally important game against Bournemouth coming up, but mine and John (Eustace) and Neil (Banfield’s) greatest concern looking ahead to that game is we wouldn’t have played for three weeks and going into that game of such significance, it’s a huge game to prepare for. 

“We will welcome players in dribs and drabs, but a large chunk will come back next week on 22nd which will give us a more acceptable number to train with. 

“Some of them will also come back from injury sporadically, however some will still be missing to late January, early February.

“Players such as Moses (Odubajo), Lee (Wallace), Sam (McCallum), Jordy (De Wijs) and Lyndon (Dykes) have all been missing and we will welcome them back over the course of the coming days and weeks. 

“Hopefully Albert (Adomah) who is also isolating will be back in the coming days and hopefully he will be fit and available for selection. We aim for Christmas Eve to have an acceptable number of players back to enable us to train and to hopefully select a squad from, it’s as simple as that.”

We have been seriously depleted, we have now closed the training ground for a couple of days to have almost a circuit break

Mark Warburton