Five players have been ruled out of the Republic of Ireland’s Nations League match with Wales on Sunday afternoon after one of them tested positive for coronavirus.
The Football Association of Ireland have confirmed one unnamed player tested positive on Friday following the squad’s return from Slovakia after a negative test on Monday, and four others deemed to be close contacts on Saturday night – understood to be John Egan, Callum Robinson, Callum O’Dowda and Alan Browne – have since been stood down.
An FAI statement said: “Stephen Kenny’s Ireland squad has received one positive Covid-19 test result ahead of today’s Nations League game against Wales at the Aviva Stadium, after the latest round of UEFA testing.
“A player – who cannot be named at this time – tested positive on Friday after a negative test on Monday but his case is not related in any way to that of the backroom team member who tested positive on Monday last. Talks with the HSE late last night identified four other players as close contacts of this positive case and they have been stood down from the matchday squad for today’s game against Wales.”
The news comes in the wake of strikers Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah being withdrawn from the squad hours before Thursday’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final clash with Slovakia, which Ireland went on to lose on penalties. Connolly had been lined up to start that game.
That decision was taken after a non-football staff member had tested positive in Bratislava with both players having sat close to him on the flight out of Dublin.
However, the FAI has revealed that test had actually produced a “false positive” result. The statement continued: “In a separate development, the FAI can now reveal that the staff member who tested positive for Covid-19 in Bratislava on Wednesday, may have received a ‘false positive’ result. Two further tests carried out on the individual on Saturday have confirmed no trace of Covid-19. The HSE and Uefa have been informed of this result. The FAI will now discuss the issue with Uefa.
“In light of these developments, the FAI wishes to make it clear that it complied with all Uefa and HSE Covid-19 guidelines concerning the availability of players and the well-being of staff around the Slovakia v Republic of Ireland fixture in Bratislava on Thursday night.”
The development has left manager Stephen Kenny facing a major, short-notice reshuffle for the Wales game and the trip to Finland which follows on Wednesday evening.