Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has called for mandatory testing of players when they return from international duty.
The Dons boss, speaking after yesterday’s 4-0 defeat by Rangers at Ibrox, was without Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan after they were identified as close contacts of the three Scotland under-21 players who tested positive, including Dons midfielder Ross McCrorie, following last week’s match against Greece.
The absence of Ferguson and McLennan was felt by a Dons side already missing several key players as they succumbed to a heavy defeat with Ryan Kent, Kemar Roofe, Scott Arfield and James Tavernier on target for the Gers.
McInnes said: “We had nine players unavailable – and it doesn’t help when we have two who were desperate to be involved.
“We know they play extra games when they go away with their countries and they can get injured, like what happened to Niall McGinn. That is the trade-off, but to have players ruled out by association shouldn’t be the case.
“The full Scotland team were away and there were no issues but the time before there were some.
“We have to be better in dealing with these types of situations.
“The communication was fine. We informed them of Ross McCrorie. Before that, the first we saw of a positive test for a staff member was on Sky and I think they should have been tested again before they went to Greece.
“We would have insisted our players were tested before they flew out again because McCrorie’s positive test was through the roof. It wasn’t just borderline. Myself and the experts feel he has been carrying that for a few days.
“I do think mandatory testing when players go away with their national teams should be there for the next three days – and clubs should be compensated for that.
“We know other clubs use a negative test from the national under-21s and (put them) straight into first-teams again because it is still within the timeframe – but that’s not right.”
McInnes was frustrated Ferguson and McLennan were unable to be involved, having been convinced they adhered to all of the protocols when they were on national duty.
He said: “We got wind on Friday that Lewis and Connor could get dragged into this. They were adamant they hadn’t been exposed to anyone who had tested positive.
“They were told where to sit on the flights and in the coaches and at the hotels. We felt that information would have given them the all-clear.
“(At Aberdeen) we travel on two buses and we split our players into defenders, midfielders and strikers at the training ground.
“They (the under-21s) had Aberdeen players sitting in close proximity which isn’t right either. But they sat where they were told to sit and that is the disappointing aspect for me.
“A positive test can happen to any of us but two players have been unable to play because of being in association with a positive test. That is what we have been trying to avoid.”