The clubs meet on Saturday afternoon and there had been widespread speculation that the fixture would be postponed after the Paisley club’s first and second choice keepers, Jak Alnwick and Dean Lyness tested positive during routine coronavirus screening and were placed in isolation.
To magnify the conundrum facing St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin, his third choice keeper Peter Urminsky was deemed to be at potential risk of transmission given his close proximity to his colleagues and, with the virus possibly in incubation, as a precaution, the club have been instructed to sideline him too until he can be retested on Sunday.
But, despite the difficulties associated with losing three goalkeepers less than a day before the match, with the government, Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board Health Protection Team and Health Protection Scotland, decreeing that there was not enough medical evidence to support postponing the game, the SPFL confirmed that the game would go ahead as planned, with all St Mirren players being be retested on Sunday ahead of their midweek Scottish Premiership fixture against Celtic.
That left the Paisley side frantically trying to find emergency cover at a time when others may not be too keen to loan out players on a short-term basis, especially to a club where positive cases have been identified and when only a limited number of teams have keepers available who are up to date with the required Covid tests.
It is understood that Hearts’ Zdenek Zlamal may be the primary target, given the Tynecastle club’s early return to training ahead of their Championship season and their adherence to the Covid 19 testing protocols.
Neil Doncaster, SPFL Chief Executive said: “I understand this is an extremely challenging situation for St Mirren but it demonstrates that the current testing regime is working, by detecting positive COVID-19 tests expeditiously, enabling the appropriate health boards to implement test and protect protocols that isolates those individuals who test positive, but allow football to continue safely and with confidence.”
St Mirren were less enthused by the process which took no cognisance of the fact they were being forced to progress without any of their recognised keepers.
In a statement issued on Friday night they said: “The club received very late confirmation from the SPFL this evening following a meeting between the Scottish Government and Joint Response Group.
“With less than 24 hours’ notice our only option is to attempt to bring in an eligible goalkeeper on loan and the club are working hard to do so and we will update fans as soon as possible once a deal is complete.
The club has rigorously followed all protocols put in place by the Scottish Government and the SPFL/SFA Joint Response Group and we will continue to do so. This is a very difficult situation for all concerned and we will continue to discuss with the SPFL how cases like this are dealt with in the future but we can assure St Mirren fans that we are doing all we can to make sure that we have a strong team for this match.”
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