Australian Rules - Essendon could face having more players in quarantine


MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Essendon could be forced to play their next few Australian Football League (AFL) matches with a bare minimum of players as authorities investigate how many have been in close contact with a team mate who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Essendon's Conor McKenna became the first AFL player to test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 on Saturday and was immediately placed in isolation.

The AFL also postponed Essendon's game against Melbourne that had been scheduled for Sunday but their next few fixtures have now come into focus as health authorities determine how many others may have been in contact with McKenna.

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"The main (training) session (on Friday) will be where most of the focus will be," Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Sunday.

"We've spent an enormous amount of time going through all of the data, all the detail and all that footage is being analysed right now.

"That information will be supplied to them (the health authorities) ... and it will take between 24 and 48 hours for them to go through and analyse it to help determine who the close contacts are."

Players deemed to have been in close contact with McKenna would need to be isolated for 14 days.

Essendon are due to play Carlton next week and Collingwood on July 3, but the league said on Sunday they could still play those fixtures with the bare-minimum of squad players.

"As long as we have 22 players and a couple of emergencies you are able to have a team," the AFL's general counsel Andrew Dillon told 3AW.

"So as far as the AFL (is concerned), we have enough players to fill a team with a couple of emergencies we are ready to go."

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Michael Perry)

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