Published: 06:00, 12 January 2021
Dover boss Andy Hessenthaler says his team have to play Boreham Wood on Tuesday night – despite six members of his squad still being in isolation.
Another Covid outbreak at Dover meant that the squad have been in self-isolation since the turn of the year but the National League have told them they must fulfil their latest fixture.
Hessenthaler still has just enough players to choose from but it’s a far from ideal scenario for Whites, who have played just twice since November 21.
They've had as many matches postponed this season due to Covid-19 as they have actually played so far.
“It’s not ideal at all,” said Hessenthaler. “We’ve been told that we’ve got to play and we’re so far behind that we need to play anyway.
“We’ve picked the best team we’ve got available; six players are still isolating so they can’t come back into the group yet, and Josh Passley is suspended.
“It’s a small squad but we’ve got to field a team.
“You can’t feel sorry for yourselves - I feel sorry for people that are losing their loved ones from Covid.”
On Boreham Wood, Hessenthaler added: "We’ve got a tough game too against Boreham Wood who are a good side.
"I watched them versus Millwall in the FA Cup at the weekend and they have won their last four in the league as well so they’re on a good run."
Hessenthaler was left trying to get the balance right between tactics and fitness work during their first training session together on Monday.
“It’s difficult to get it right,” he admitted. “We won’t really know until we play our first game again.
“When we had our previous isolation period, the first game back was at Woking and for 25 minutes it looked like we hadn’t played for a long time as well. The pitch is quite heavy at Crabble as well.
“We’ve been able to give the players the zoom stuff again where they’ve been able to do sessions at home thanks to Sam Wood, he has been different class in helping them tick over.
“It’s not great staying indoors all the time but it’s match fitness that we’ve not got. My concern is that we’ve got a couple of players coming back from suspension as well and they’ve not played for a number of weeks now.
“When we play Wrexham on Saturday that will be our third league game since the end of November which is crazy.
“We don’t like where we are in the league but there’s a lot of factors behind that. We haven’t been good enough for the first 10 games and we’re so far behind now, we’ve got eight games in hand on one team now.
“We got the legs going on Monday and did some team preparation work, we went through some analysis of Boreham Wood and prepared the team as best we can.”
As part of the bigger picture, Hessenthaler doesn’t believe Whites should be playing.
He’s previously stated that has nothing to do with the league table – the Dover boss has held that view for some time.
“I don’t think we should be playing,” he re-iterated. “I listened to Steve Bruce (Newcastle manager) the other day and I agree with him. I can understand that we’re playing due to finances but morally it’s wrong.
“I agree with a lot of the other managers that we shouldn’t be playing.
“I watch the news every day and it’s getting worse. They’ve cancelled the lower leagues in Scotland for three weeks and below the north and south in the National League it looks like that’s going to be null and void.
“Does that mess up the pyramid system? Yes, it does.
“I love football. I’ve been involved for more than 35 years. It’s been my life but what’s going on at the moment puts football on the backburner.
“I’m not really worried about football too much in that sense but I’m looking forward to being back.”