Aloisi: Western United prepared ready for ‘inevitable’ COVID case

Western United coach John Aloisi says that a COVID case in his team won’t disrupt their preparations for Friday evening’s clash with Adelaide United, having spent the pre-season preparing for a positive test to pop up in the group.

Western became one of a growing number of Australian sporting teams to report a positive COVID test during the week; a member of its A-League Men squad (ALM) being identified during routine testing and forced into isolation.

At the time of writing, two Newcastle Jets ALM players, a Jets A-League Women (ALW) player, a Sydney FC ALM player, and a Perth Glory ALM player had all returned positive COVID-19 tests in the past weeks. The latter has forced Glory into a two-week isolation period in Queensland that has both thrown the competition’s fixture into chaos and forced the side’s players, coaches and staff into isolation for Christmas.

Update: a Macarthur FC ALM player has since tested positive for COVID-19.

Glory’s quarantining has forced the APL to postpone the club’s games against Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United but, speaking ahead of his side’s clash with the Reds at AAMI Park on Friday evening, Aloisi said his Western squad was preparing as if the game was still going ahead.

“We haven’t had any more cases as of yet,” he said on Thursday afternoon. “We’ll do all the testing, we do our rapid tests every day. We do PCR tests every day and we’ll be ready to play tomorrow. We’re looking forward to the game and preparing for the game.

“Out of respect for the player [that has tested positive], I won’t mention his name. But he’s ok, he’s at home with his family and resting up. I don’t think he’s got too many symptoms, if any. But it’s because of the testing we do every day that we do to make sure that we are covered, the PCR test ended up showing that it was positive for COVID.

“We got tested the day before and then we trained [Wednesday] afternoon and we trained again [Thursday] morning.

“We knew this would happen during the season. We prepared in pre-season, we spoke about it at length, and we had moments in pre-season where we had to cancel training because we visited sites and we had to change training times.

“The boys are really robust and ready, knowing that we’re prepared. We can only control what we can and that’s the way we’re looking at it. This group is a strong group. If we have anything going against us I’m sure that they’ll fight even harder.

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“We’ve prepared really well for this one, even though there are disruptions, nobody is making any excuses because that’s one of the things we expected from the preseason.”

The latest wave of positive COVID cases in Australia is part of a broader, global trend in cancelled and postponed sporting events; the Premier League forced to delay a bevy of fixtures and the NBA experiencing a surge in players being forced into COVID-19 protocols.

This is occurring against a backdrop of a new Omicron variant of the disease emerging around the globe. Theories have suggested that this new strain of the disease, though more transmittable, produces less severe illness, however not enough data has been sourced for medical experts to properly determine the validity of these claims.

In light of these ongoing developments, Aloisi said his club had increased precautions amongst their group.

“As a club, we’re in constant contact with the APL to make sure that we’re across all the protocols,” he said. “We’re also making sure that the players understand that it’s to training and straight home; not visiting any sites – cafes, restaurants or whatever.

“At training, we’ve been very vigilant. We made sure today that none of the meetings was inside, we were always outside when we met at training. Normally we have meetings or video analysis [inside]. It’s one of those things where we’re making sure we’re doing the right things.”

Altered as their preparations may have been, Western will face Adelaide on Friday night seeking to extend their winning streak to four games and maintain a defensive record that has seen them concede just a single goal – from a set-piece – so far this season. The club, be it in their wins or their one loss to Melbourne Victory in round one, has only taken part in 1-0 contests in 2021-22.

Aleksandar Prijović and Rene Krhin are set to miss again on Friday night, although PFA Player of the Month Léo Lacroix is expected to resume his position at the heart of the Green and Black back four.

“[Adelaide is] a good side. They’re a really good side,” said Aloisi. “They’ve got good individuals and experienced ones as well. They’ve also got good coaches, Carl and my brother [Ross Aloisi] there. They’re a dangerous team to play against.

“Just because they haven’t won, people think they’re not doing so well but I’ve watched every game of theirs – both because I love football but also to follow my brother – and they’ve been unlucky not to win.

“They’ve been close every game, they’ve created a lot of chances, they get numbers into the box a lot and so we have to be aware of our defensive structures and what we have to do to try and stop them. We know we have to be at our best if we’re going to get a result against them.”

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Header Image Credit: Western United

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