| 10.5°C Belfast

Northern Ireland striker Josh Magennis reveals concerns about return to action



Alert to danger: Josh Magennis is concerned for people’s safety

Alert to danger: Josh Magennis is concerned for people’s safety

Alert to danger: Josh Magennis is concerned for people’s safety

Northern Ireland striker Josh Magennis has spoken about his concerns relating to the coronavirus pandemic as he prepares to resume training with his club Hull City on Monday.

Players and staff at Championship outfit Hull, who are managed by ex-Northern Ireland ace Grant McCann, are due to be tested for Covid-19 today.

Magennis, always one to speak from the heart, has admitted that being black and asthmatic has made him feel that bit more vulnerable.

"I saw on the news recently that ethnic minorities, black men and women, are more likely to suffer severe consequences if they catch coronavirus," Magennis told the BBC.

"You are reading all of this and, you know what it is like when you are at home, there are loads of things going through your mind. You're wondering what is going to happen.

"I am concerned to be honest with you.

"At the start we were told that it might not affect people with asthma too much, but now we hear that asthma is on the list of things that make people vulnerable.

"I have asthma, I've had it for 10 years, and my youngest son has it. I wouldn't say it is severe, but it is enough to disrupt what he is doing, especially when he is exercising."

The 29-year-old, now established as a firm favourite with the Green and White Army for his committed displays and vital goals, has been living in Manchester with his family during the lockdown period.

"My wife and I haven't had to leave home since we went into lockdown, we have just stayed at home and haven't had to see anyone else," the striker said.

"I have no problem with the thought process of going back to training - we all have to go back - but it is the extra exposure that will come with it.

"There will be uncertainty just coming and going from training.

"To go back to training will mean I will have to go back to my home in Hull.

"To do that will mean I will have to go shopping there, be around more people and even do small things like having to fill up my car."

Magennis added he has "100% confidence" that the training environment will be safe.

"At first it will be small groups of four and five players training, basically doing like a mini pre-season with staggered arrival times for players," he said.

"It will not be like other people's jobs who, when they go back, will be doing the full job they were used to before.

"That won't be the case for us as it could be three to four weeks before we are able to do full contact training," he added.

"As far as the rest of the season is concerned, I was told a long time ago that I'm not paid to think, I'm paid to do. If we are told that the season is going ahead then happy days, but if it has to be voided that's just the case. Health and safety has to be paramount - people's lives cannot be put at risk."

It was confirmed yesterday that there will be relegation and promotion from the three divisions of the English Football League if seasons are ended prematurely by Covid-19.

The plan is to re-start the 2019/2020 Championship campaign next month. With nine games left Hull are fourth bottom just two points above the drop zone though they are only a single point adrift of Michael O'Neill's Stoke City who are in 17th.

Meanwhile, the Football Association remains committed to completing the final three rounds of the FA Cup if the professional game can safely restart amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The FA's chief executive Mark Bullingham is understood to have told FA Council members at a meeting yesterday that the intention remains to wrap up the knockout competition alongside Premier League action, although whether the cup final would be the last domestic match in the 2019-20 season was not mentioned.

The competition had reached the quarter-final stage when professional football was suspended on March 13.

Bullingham is understood to have told the members that the quarter-finals could be played on a home-and-away basis if the Government and emergency services give their approval for the season to resume that way, and that the semi-finals and final would be behind closed doors at Wembley.

Bullingham and FA chairman Greg Clarke are understood to have talked again about the costs to the game caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, which they estimated would run into hundreds of millions of pounds across the FA, the Premier League and the EFL if the season cannot be completed.

Clarke is understood to have said he could foresee a situation where fans are not allowed back into grounds because of social distancing requirements for most or potentially all of next season.

He is understood to have talked about the need to support clubs in the football pyramid to effectively 'hibernate' until such time as supporters return to provide them with the matchday revenue they need to survive, or until it is otherwise viable to operate.

The FA Council was also given information on changes to the laws of the game for the 2020-21 season by former referee David Elleray, who is now technical director of the game's law-making body the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

Belfast Telegraph