‘It’s a shame’ but England’s Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell should not be allowed an exemption from Covid isolation EVEN if it means them missing the Germany game, insist public health experts
- England duo look could at least miss out on starting places for Germany game
- Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell are training away from the squad all week
- They are not due to be reunited with team mates until Monday evening
- Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink among others has warned they will lack sharpness
There should be no exemption from covid isolation for the England pair Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell, even though it will effectively rule them out of the starting 11 against Germany, say experts in public health.
The Football Association was flabbergasted when the duo were ordered to self isolate after congratulating club team mate, Billy Gilmour, following England’s 0-0 draw with Scotland on Saturday.
Gilmour subsequently tested positive for Covid and the English pair were identified as close contacts, which requires them to self-isolate for a mandatory 10-day period, while no Scottish player has had to quarantine.
After being told to isolate until Monday, Mount (left) and Chilwell (centre) will train and dine separately (pictured: both players on Monday)
The FA has appealed to Public Health England to request that Mount and Chilwell can at least participate in small group sessions this week, similar to those used by the Premier League during Project Restart.
However, there are no grounds to grant the request, insist experts, and England look like they are stuck with Mount and Chilwell’s exile right up to Monday evening.
‘They broke the bubble,’ said Professor Keith Neal, an expert in public health at the University of Nottingham. ‘They could have compromised the whole tournament. They knew they should not talk to the opposition. It was their own fault and there are no exemptions.’
The FA have asked for permission from Public Health England to allow Mount and Chilwell to take part in socially-distanced training this week
The apparent inconsistency between the application of the rules to the England and Scotland squads has been the subject of debate.
Prof Neal, who advises Government on the country’s Covid response, said the Scotland players were not required to self-isolate under the rules, because they are part of the same bubble. In contrast, the England players were exposed to a close contact outside of their bubble.
Prof Keith Neal believes there should be no exemption from isolation for footballers
The Scottish FA, meanwhile, said PHE were satisfied that ‘no close contacts have been identified’, although eyebrows were raised again this week when a video, subsequently deleted from Instagram, showed Gilmour playing table tennis with team-mates Andy Robertson and John McGinn.
Public health experts put a lot of emphasis on the rules. They are concerned that if they appear to be interpreted differently for footballers, then it is harder to enforce them for everyone else.
‘The whole thing is predicated on people keeping to the rules,’ added Prof Neal. ‘If people do not keep to the rules they cannot be allowed exemptions.’
Mount and Chilwell came into close contact with Covid-positive Scotland star Billy Gilmour (C)
Currently Mount and Chilwell are training and dining separately to the rest of the England squad and if that continues until Monday evening, as now seems likely, the duo’s prospects for starting the game are slim according to coaches.
Today, former Dutch international and ex-Chelsea and Leeds United striker, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink told Sportsmail that he believed 10 days without training with the rest of the team was too long for the players to start the match and left manager Gareth Southgate with a ‘big, big call’ to make.
‘Tactically, it is not a problem,’ said Hasselbaink, who manages League One Burton Albion. ‘Knowing Gareth, he will have looked at every potential opponent – what they have got and what systems they are playing – and now they will be looking in depth.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink told Sportsmail Mount and Chilweel would be affected by isolation
‘The players can get a lot from video and keeping a distance and talking it through. The problem is the sharpness.’
Another public health expert, Professor Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia reluctantly agreed there was no way out of quarantine for Mount and Chilwell.
‘It is difficult,’ he said. ‘I cannot see a way around it that would not be seen as breaking the rules. It is a shame, particularly with this one being against Germany.’