Exeter City’s upcoming games are in doubt after a growing number of coronavirus cases in the roster.
A handful of academy players had previously tested positive for Covid-19, as did defense attorney Alex Hartridge on Friday.
However, striker Sam Nombe was banned from Tuesday’s penalty shoot-out loss to Wycombe Wanderers after testing positive, while Josh Key, who sat next to the former MK Dons man in the locker room on Saturday, awaits test results after developing symptoms .
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With one coach also testing positive, concerns are growing about the number of cases and whether the spread can be stopped, with all players being tested on Tuesday evening and then Thursday morning.
Exeters League Two rivals Harrogate Town had three games postponed on Monday after an outbreak occurred in their squad after Saturday’s game against Rochdale, with Bristol Rovers likely to be postponed.
“Sam has tested positive for Covid and Josh Key has gone down with symptoms so we expect another one,” confirmed manager Matt Taylor when asked about her absence from the Carabao Cup draw.
“Josh sat next to him in the locker room on Saturday and once it turns out it’s in the locker room and in the stands, we can’t go on playing for the safety of the players.
“The boys are being tested tonight and Thursday morning, but it’s a worrying time for the players. We’re supposed to travel on a bus Friday / Saturday and then next week Monday / Tuesday and I’m not sure that will be possible when we have three or four positive cases that we know are in the group . “
Taylor added, “If it sporadically spreads from the outside, there are no problems, but it cannot spread inward. We have three specific cases plus one employee and cannot go any further. We have notified the EFL and they know what could come depending on the test results.
“The main problem is that we have to evaluate what we are doing and whether we are getting more cases than we need to evaluate if we cannot stop the spread within the ranks.
“We let Wycombe know that we think the best policy is to be open and honest, but if it turns out to be in our ranks and spreading from within, we need to change something.
“But the moment you think about where Josh Key was sitting next to Sam Nombe on Saturday and the time we’ve all spent together since then, in theory we should all self-isolate the locker room, no matter how big it is.
“We can’t just go on this path and every three or four days two more cases, three more cases or one more case because we can never get rid of it and the squad will only suffer as a result.”
Infection rates in Exeter are currently the second highest in England, with only Lincoln having an infection rate higher than the 583 / 100,000 within the city, the highest during the entire pandemic.
And those rates will continue to rise as the number of cases in the city shows no signs of slowing down yet, with infections mostly in 15-34 year olds but mostly in 15-24 year olds.
If more positive tests are returned, health chiefs could request the rest of the team to self-isolate, but the rules for isolation will change on Monday August 16, when anyone double vaccinated more than 14 days earlier no longer needs to self-isolate when classified as close contact.
Exeter City was therefore only able to name six subs for the duel in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday against the Wycombe Wanderers, which ended 0-0 after 90 minutes. After Sam Vokes and Alex Samuel saw Cameron Dawson penalties saved, Jonathan Grounds had a chance to win, but David Stockdale held out. Sudden death went and after Oli Pendlebury scored a goal, Stockdale refused James Dodd to give the Chairboys a 4-3 shootout win and a second-round spot.
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