Sheffield United take steps to try and avoid squad withdrawals

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Sheffield United’s players have been reminded of their responsibilities under the Premier League’s Covid-19 guidelines, as manager Chris Wilder hopes to avoid seeing his efforts to kickstart the club’s season undermined by a series of protocol breaches or positive tests.

After United’s preparations for the new campaign were badly affected by the number of squad members forced to self isolate after returning from abroad or coming into contact with someone who later tested positive for the disease, Wilder and his coaching staff are keen to prevent further disruption now the fixture programme has got underway.

With the enforcement of social distancing measures becoming increasingly aggressive due to a rise in cases, Wilder is keen to prevent the type of scenario which saw Republic of Ireland striker Aaron Connolly miss Thursday’s European Championship qualifier against Slovakia. His seat on the plane was deemed to be 10cm too close to an FAI staff member who subsequently failed a Covid test. Stephen Kenny’s men, including United’s John Egan, David McGoldrick and Enda Stevens, saw their hopes of reaching next summer’s finals dashed when they were eliminated on penalties.

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Ireland’s football officials tried to persuade their country’s health chiefs to drop their objections, but the pleas of Kenny and his employers feel on deaf ears.

“The lads are sensible and they’re professional,” Wilder said. “The doctors here and the medical people have been brilliant, right from the start, about making sure we could get up and running here again as quickly and as safely as you could possibly be.

“Sometimes, I just don’t think you can do anything about it. But if you can stop something happening, then of course we want to.”

“We’ve made sure everyone knows what they have to do in order to comply with the rules that have been laid down,” Wilder continued. “Every so often, though, with things changing, we all get a little reminder and I think that’s been really useful. Yes, sometimes it can be really confusing regarding what you can and can’t do, so I don’t think it hurts to be run through it every so often.”

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United return to PL action next weekend, when Fulham visit Bramall Lane. Both teams will enter the match searching for their first points of the season.

Sheffield United's Chris Wilder: David Klein/SportimageSheffield United's Chris Wilder: David Klein/Sportimage
Sheffield United's Chris Wilder: David Klein/Sportimage

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