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SUNDERLAND goalkeeper Lee Burge has been ruled out for four to five weeks due to heart palpitations shortly after contracting Covid-19.
The club confirmed Burge had a positive case for the virus at the beginning of the month and subsequently served a period of self-isolation. But following a return to training, Burge felt unwell and a series of tests revealed a heart arrythmia.
Fellow keeper Anthony Patterson was recalled from his loan spell from Notts County for the month of January but will now stay with Sunderland for the rest of the season due to Burge’s heart problem.
Head coach Lee Johnson said: “He has still got an issue. He’s got effectively a slightly inflamed heart.
“It seems to happen a lot after these injections or potentially Covid, I’m not sure exactly what it is.
“At the same time, he’s going to be 4-5 weeks where he’s got to keep his heart rate below 100 and then has blood tests again to check that the heart is fully back to normal.
“The care of the individual has to be at the forefront of your thinking. I think we’ve demonstrated this really well. Massive respect has to go to the doctor and the physio department at the football club because what we don’t want is something dreadful happening to one of our players.
“If there is any sign of heart fluttering or a player not feeling quite right then we get the full checks done and that’s what has been done. It’s flagged up.
“Luckily we’ve got it early and therefore he can rest. He should make a full recovery, that’s what we’re expecting very quickly.”
While Burge has largely been kept out of the team by Thorben Hoffman, he’s featured nine times this season for the Black Cats.
Newcastle United defender Jamal Lascelles had a similar problem at the beginning of the season shortly after contracting Covid with medical staff at the club determining that the virus was the cause for his heart arrythmia.
NHS guidance says that rare cases of heart inflammation or myocarditis have been reported shortly after a Covid vaccine and people have recovered following a period of rest and simple treatments.
At this point, Sunderland are still trying to come up with answers with Burge’s symptoms.
Johnson added: “The weight would be on Covid wouldn’t it? But you can’t rule out vaccination.
“I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I just get the information and my first thought is with the player to make sure he’s fit and well and survives it well and can have a long career but to get him back as quickly as possible and feeling good.
“That process means he can’t lift his heart rate over 100 beats per minute at the moment.
“It’s probably slightly controversial. I don’t know the answer so I would ill advised to make quotes like that.
“Burgey wasn’t one that was particularly happy with the way he felt during that period. That could have been a crossover when he had the vaccine so we don’t actually know what’s caused it but it’s probably the Covid.”