Hatters chief would be in favour of a break for Covid - but only if it was the right thing to do

Town boss gives his thoughts on possibly stopping the league due to rise in Omicron cases

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 24th December 2021, 2:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th December 2021, 1:48 pm
Hatters boss Nathan Jones
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Luton boss Nathan Jones has declared he would be in favour of a break in the season to allow clubs to try and combat the surge in Omicron cases of Covid, but only if it were to actually achieve anything.

This year's festive football schedule is in danger of being decimated with 21 Boxing Day matches in the EFL already postponed due to teams suffering outbreaks within their squads.

It has led to some managers calling for a pause in proceedings to allow teams to recover properly and when asked if it was something he backed, Jones said: “I’m in favour of doing the right thing, so if that is the right thing, a break up, then okay, but again it’s people's diligence.

“As you can do that and people might postpone a Christmas party for example and then that can start back up, it’s not going anywhere any time soon, it’s just we have to work on the dangers of it.

“They’re talking about the vaccine which is vital and important, and we’ve had one (case) that’s totally fine, he’s had no symptoms whatsoever.

"He doesn't feel bad, is ready to train, but because we test, it shows up and then he’s positive, so I don’t know what’s for the best because people had flu but has anyone heard of anyone having flu at this time of year?

“Normally flu is rife and rampant and everyone picked up flu.

"Flu’s been eradicated from the face of the earth, miraculously, so it’s really difficult.

"I don’t want to be controversial and say anything that’s going to get me in trouble, but it's a real strange time at the minute.

"As I know a friend that went down with Covid, so he had to isolate for 10 days, but he had tonsillitis, he categorically had tonsillitis, but he also tested positive for Covid, so I don't know, it’s a pretty crazy time.”

The EFL published guidelines recently in which it outlined just what is needed a game to do ahead, with teams expected to get the game on if they have 14 players including a goalkeeper from their registered squad list available.

When asked if he thought sides could get around it if they had other injury concerns, Jones continued: "If I’m honest, I don’t see what goes on behind the scenes so I can’t really comment on that.

"For me, if you call a game off, then you need to have medical records.

“I like the way the Premier League do it, you have to apply and then you call the game off.

"It would be medical records for those that have been out, GPS records for those that have been out, because there’s no point saying they’ve got an injury now but they’ve trained fully, for example.

“Then, possibly, Covid tests, PCR tests have to be proven to call a game off, because of the destruction it causes.

“So, I don’t know if that is the criteria, so I can’t really comment, but integrity has to be upheld.

“I say this with the greatest of respect, I know a few key players and they go, 'we’ve got Covid.'

"If things like that happen then that has to be clamped down on because the integrity of the competition has to be kept.

“I would imagine, with the greatest of respect, most are genuine.

"Most don’t want a game called off, it might suit in the short term but in the long term it doesn’t really fix the congestion, so it’s difficult.”

Although there has been some major disruption in the last week, with Luton's trip to Reading called off, actual preparation for the matches hasn’t been an issue for Jones and his backroom staff, as he added: “Planning’s not the problem it’s the fulfillment.

"Because we were planned and ready to go for Reading, it’s just we couldn’t fulfil those plans.

"We are planned and ready to go for Bristol City and God willing we’ll be able to implement that plan, same as we’ll have a number of days for Swansea and so on and so forth.

"The planning’s not the problem, it’s the implementation of those plans that’s the thing.

"But I stress, I’m not a scientist, I’m not Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Adviser to the UK Government) in any way.

"Health is paramount for the nation, for everyone, not just footballers, but we also as a nation have to learn to live with this, because there’ll be a new strain that will be weaker.

"And then you might get an itch on the back of your head and suddenly you’ve got to have seven days off and the world stops because of your itch on the back of your head.

"I’ve had flu in the past where I’ve gone in and trained and I’ve been in turmoil, but I’ve dug in and played for my club.

"I had flu and I had sniffles and I couldn't breathe properly, but I dug in as that’s what I had to do.

"Nowadays you’ve not got to do that, because you can have 10 days at home.”