Watford manager Nigel Pearson has confirmed that two more players at the club have been forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus.
Defender Adrian Mariappa recently revealed that he had been diagnosed with the virus, despite abiding by lockdown regulations, while two other members of the non-playing staff have also tested positive.
Speaking on Friday, Pearson revealed (via The Guardian) that his squad had been further depleted, although there has been no additional diagnoses as of yet.
“They’re not, no,” he said when asked whether every player was back in training. “One through testing positive, two more through being in contact with somebody else, and the others because they decided not to come in.
"The regulations [state] that people who have had relatively close contact with other people have to go into isolation – in the same way as someone who has tested positive.”
To try and protect players, the Premier League have increased the number of coronavirus tests at every club from 40 to 50 per day, but Pearson revealed that Watford are doing their own tests on the side to try and stay as safe as possible.
“What the Premier League are doing is one thing and they’ve moved the number from 40 to 50,” Pearson said. “Today they tested 50 but on top of that we’re testing more staff and family members. We will complement what the Premier League are doing to give reassurance to players and staff members.”
Among the players to have refused to return is captain Troy Deeney, who has publicly admitted that he does not intend to go back as he does not believe he could do so without putting his young son in danger of contracting the virus.
Deeney also raised concerns about the lack of acknowledgement of the issues facing black, Asian and minority ethnic players, who have been proven to be more at-risk during the current climate, and the striker took part in a meeting with league officials on Friday to try and figure out a safe way forward for everyone.
However, as it stands, Pearson's squad has been completely ravaged. Given they sit 17th in the Premier League table, Watford will be eager to be at full strength if they are to return and fend off relegation, but that's obviously not possible right now. Yikes.