Watford are six players down inside the first week of Project Restart after two more went into isolation.
And as manager Nigel Pearson revealed new setbacks at the club in the eye of the coronavirus storm, he hit out at the “political animals” who have maintained a deafening silence instead of speaking out about the risks of the Premier League's proposed resumption next month.
After defender Adrian Mariappa tested positive for Covid-19, Hornets skipper Troy Deeney's refusal to return to training and at least two others staying away citing health concerns, two more unnamed players have now gone into isolation.
Deeney's principled stand, because his five-month-old infant son has suffered respiratory complications, attracted witless abuse on Twitter.
And Pearson, who has his own reservations about football rushing back, said: “We've got a couple more people in isolation because of close contact with people who have tested positive – even though their own test results have come back negative.
“That shows you the complications we’ve got, but we're not a full squad – one player through testing positive, two more because they’ve been in close contact with somebody else and we have the players who decided not to come in.
“We’ve had several players not available for different reasons. Hopefully that situation will change in time.”
Watford and Brighton, both just above the relegation zone when the music stopped, have been the most outspoken clubs in highlighting the health risks of Project Restart.
Pearson, who has been wearing a mask on the training ground this week, lost his mother early in January and moved his 86-year-old father into the family home in Sheffield before lockdown so he was not cut adrift.
But he has moved him back out again and the Watford boss added: “I find it awkward to talk about football when we’re in such a difficult situation. It doesn’t seem right to be talking too much about football when we’ve got so many fatalities.
“I’m happy, when given the opportunity, to say what I think. What’s the point of having a meeting and not saying what you think?
“I’m not a political animal like some people are. And others can have their opinions.
“The wellbeing and health of players and staff comes first. We’ve got to be prepared for change. What others think, they think.
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