Newport County boss Michael Flynn is set to be without seven players ahead of his side’s clash with Leyton Orient this weekend due to a Covid-19 outbreak.
Four members of Flynn’s squad have tested positive, while another three are set to miss out after coming into close contact with the quartet.
Flynn is back in the County dugout this weekend a week after recovering from the virus himself, and has refused to name the most of the players involved, in a bid to keep Saturday’s opponents guessing.
However, Wales under-21s star Lewis Collins has been confirmed as one of those to miss out.
Collins was due to travel with his international team-mates, but was too young to have his second jab in time, meaning he too will have to isolate for the full period after being named as a close contact of one of the other Covid victims.
“I won’t name them because they will know who’s missing tomorrow,” Flynn added.
“But I will give one name and this is how unfortunate we have been.
“Lewis Collins has had two jabs and was going to go away with Wales Under-21s but he only had his second jab 10 days before he was in close contact with one of the other players.
“In the rules you have to be two weeks post-second jab. He has been so unfortunate.”
However, Flynn’s sympathy appears to otherwise be in short supply, with two of the players now self-isolating previously refusing to be to be inoculated.
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Had those players been double-jabbed by now, as many of the squad have been, then they would have been free to play after testing negative.
“One or two of them have got to isolate because they haven’t been double jabbed,” Flynn continued.
“It’s a decision they have got to live with. They decided not to have the jab and every time they come into close contact with a positive case they will miss at least 10 days of football.
“I’m certainly not happy with the situation, but I’ve got to let players make their own decisions. If they are happy doing that then it’s not going to help them going forward.
“I’m just happy I was double jabbed when I caught COVID because I hate to think how I would have felt without that protection. I was really bad for three or four days – aching, sweating and shaking – and it really wiped me out.
“We can field a team and I am not into trying to get any advantage through it.
“Until this, I would say we’ve had the best Covid record in the Football League. We haven’t had one game called off and we only had one player who’d had it, but that was away from the group.”
Flynn missed the 8-0 Carabao Cup hammering by Southampton and the 3-0 League Two defeat at Salford City, but was back for the 2-0 midweek win over Plymouth Argyle in the Football League Trophy.
“I had to sit down throughout the 90 minutes and I couldn’t shout at the players, but it was good to be back,” said Flynn.
“I wasn’t too bothered about the Southampton result because we made a lot of errors, had a weakened team and they were excellent. But the Salford game was extremely disappointing.
“I was on the phone to Jim Holman, our goalkeeping coach, eight times during the match. I was fuming because that wasn’t us.
“Then I discovered that some of the players felt really run down and low on energy. Then we had the COVID cases.
“We’ve just got to draw a line under it all and move on. We only have 18 or 19 to pick from for this weekend, but I am still confident we will have a team that is good enough to win the game.”
Flynn will be hoping his squad can move move on, and build on what he still insists is “an unbelievable start” to the season.
“We’ve won four out of seven and we’ve only had two games at home. We’ve got a 50% record in one cup competition, 50% in the league and we’re unbeaten in another cup,” he added.
Orient did the double over County in the league last season, but were one of the Welsh club’s victims in yet another good run in the FA Cup. They will head to Rodney Parade on the back of a 2-0 win at home over Bradford.