'We couldn't guarantee people's safety, that's why we pulled it' - US Portsmouth boss Tom Grice on club's Covid-19 call-offs

Tom Grice defended US Portsmouth's decision to postpone two Wessex League Premier Division fixtures following a Covid-19 outbreak within their squad.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 5:58 pm
US Portsmouth boss Tom Grice, left. Picture: Keith Woodland (170721-5)

And the USP boss made it clear he would rather call games off than run the risk of one of his players or staff members causing a possible coronavirus spread.

US Portsmouth are preparing for a return to league action on Saturday as they host Portland.

It comes after the club postponed scheduled fixtures with Alresford last weekend and a midweek clash against Horndean after one squad member contracted Covid and others had displayed symptoms.

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But Grice says US Portsmouth were left with no choice but to not play their previous two matches, with the club's first-team, reserves and youth side all attending training together prior to their positive case.

And the USP boss told how he would be unwilling to send a side out to play a fixture should he be unable to guarantee none of his squad had Covid-19.

Grice said: ‘It’s been devastating, really, with people being pinged. I know we’re not the only team to be pinged but it just went right through so it’s just not good. We were down to 11 players.

‘The issue that we had is we had a lad at training and everyone was there at training.

‘It’s pretty much like, what do we do? Do I send a squad to Horndean on Tuesday and I don’t genuinely know whether one of my players has got Covid?

‘We had people at training, everyone was at training, we couldn’t guarantee people’s safety and that’s the reason why we pulled it.

‘The reserves were at training, the first team were at training and the youth team were at training. It’s one of them, what do you do?’

With many of US Portsmouth's squad observing their final day of isolation today (Thursday), most will not even be able to train before facing Portland.

But Grice admitted it's just something his squad will have to deal with as they prepare for a first fixture in 16 days.

He added: ‘At this moment in time, today is the last day of the isolation period, so we’re going to be alright.

‘It’s going to be a tough one going from isolation to playing, it throws issues of players not being fresh and stuff like that.’