St Mirren v Hibs to go ahead despite hosts’ triple Covid-19 blow11 September 2020
Last updated on .From the section St Mirren
St Mirren's Scottish Premiership game with Hibernian will go ahead on Saturday - despite all three of the Paisley club's goalkeepers being unavailable due to coronavirus.
St Mirren are trying to sign Hearts' Bobby Zlamal on loan as a replacement.
A second, unnamed, St Mirren keeper tested positive on Thursday after confirmation on Monday that Jak Alnwick is self-isolating.
A third, who tested negative, is ruled out having been in close proximity.
He is "at potential risk of transmission" and is excluded as a precaution. St Mirren's three goalkeepers are Alnwick, Dean Lyness and Peter Urminksy.
Scottish football's joint response group, having consulted government health officials, says "there is not enough evidence" to support a postponement.
Alnwick's house-mate, Lee Hodson - the former St Mirren full-back now with Hamilton Academical - is also having to quarantine for 14 days.
Goalkeeper Alnwick started his 10 days of isolation after Monday testing. After further screening on Thursday, St Mirren said they "can confirm that a second player has tested positive".
St Mirren did not reveal the player's identity, but he will join Alnwick in missing the Paisley side's games against Hibs and Celtic. The third keeper, along with all St Mirren players, will be re-tested on Sunday.
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: "I understand this is an extremely challenging situation for St Mirren. But it demonstrates that the current testing regime is working, by detecting positive COVID-19 tests expeditiously, enabling the appropriate health boards to implement test and protect protocols that isolates those individuals who test positive, but allow football to continue safely and with confidence."
'They have adhered to guidelines'
Speaking before the second positive test, manager Jim Goodwin said he would normally be reluctant to name the first player but that there was "no point us denying it" after it appeared on social media.
"It would be perfectly clear to everyone when the team is selected on Saturday anyway," he said. "We are disappointed for Jak, but he's doing well and recovering."
Unlike Hodson, who has to isolate for 14 days having come into contact with a positive case, Alnwick's 10-day quarantine leaves Goodwin hoping he can return for his side's game against Dundee United on 19 September.
"The two lads have been close pals for a number of years and Lee Hodson came up the road to Hamilton just recently, so this was a temporary arrangement," Goodwin explained.
"We worked with Lee last season - two very professional lads who would most definitely be sticking to what's been asked of them. It is just an unfortunate situation."
St Mirren had seven members of staff test positive for Covid-19 in July, but six were found to be false-positives after further screening and Goodwin insisted that Alnwick had followed all the protocols.
"This is just something that is going to continue to happen," he said. "We can't do any more as a club, but unfortunately the players and the staff members, everybody has to go home and some of our partners and wives are going out to work every day.
"I've got three kids going to school every day mixing with hundreds of other children."