Wanderers Still Counting COVID Cost

Wanderers are back but not yet back to full strength as they prepare for a return to action on Saturday.

The New Year’s Day fixture at Rotherham is set to go ahead to bring to an end an enforced three-week hiatus for the Whites.

A total of over 20 positive COVID cases among players and backroom staff has taken its toll with three successive games postponed.

Ian Evatt’s squad returned to training on Monday following a week-long shutdown of their Lostock training base.

But the Wanderers’ boss confirmed that he will still be without a couple of senior players and will have others not yet firing on all cylinders for the trip to the table-topping Millers.

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“We’ve got players back and available. We’ve also got key players still missing and will be missing Saturday with COVID,” said Evatt, who was among those forced into isolation.

“We will be able to fulfil the fixture, which is important to a lot of people.

“But for us some of the lads who have returned from COVID aren’t in a physical condition to do the best they can on Saturday. It’s as simple as that.

“It affects people differently and some of our lads have had real struggles with their breathing and real struggles with the intensity and work ethic required in football.

“We’re just going to have to the best we can for now and hopefully they will recover as quickly as possible.”

Wanderers meet the criteria of the EFL to play the game with sufficient players available to make up a 14-man squad.

Captain Ricardo Almeida Santos could return after a one-match ban he served in a 1-0 defeat at Accrington Stanley in Wanderers’ last game on 11 December.

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Striker Amadou Bakayoko has also returned from injury but Xav Amaechi is not eligible to play.

Wanderers have reached agreed with Hamburg to renew the winger’s loan and keep him until at least the end of the season.

But drawing up a new deal requires further international clearance which will not be granted by the time the January transfer window opens on the day of the game at Rotherham.

“What we have got, according to the rules, is enough bodies to fulfil the fixture,” added Evatt.

“What condition those bodies are in doesn’t seem to be taken into account at the moment but we will do the very best we can to go there and put on a performance and get a right result.

“We are professionals and we will do the best we can. That’s a requirement from us and something we pride ourselves on and our own standards.”

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