Oli Shaw admits it was a hammer blow for Ross County’s ultra-cautious players to have avoided Covid for more than a year to then be struck down and shut-down for 10 pre-season days.
The Staggies have now been forced to forfeit their first two Premier Sports Cup Group A games – against Forfar last weekend and Dundee on Sunday – due to the effects of the outbreak, with both rivals awarded 3-0 walkovers.
Shaw explained that following the correct protocols proved not to be enough at County as footballers, like anyone, have their daily lives to get on with away from the club.
He said: “We knew the cases were rising again, so, while we were all being careful, of course, it’s not a case of coming through the boys in the changing room. It could be from anywhere, just going to Tesco or whatever. That’s what you have to realise as players.
“We are following all the protocols at the club, but when everything else is opening up and you are going to Tesco, for example, other people are maybe not following protocols and that’s when you maybe catch it.
“It was difficult, especially when we thought we were over the worst of it and going through the whole of last season without any cases. We’re hoping everyone is fit and healthy coming back and we’re ready to go.
“It’s difficult because it’s not the same, so the boys are back at training and have been looking forward to getting out the house and getting back to a bit of normality.”
Forfeit at Forfar meant 3-0 win for Loons with Dundee game next to be axed
County had to forfeit their opening cup game last weekend due to the outbreak, which affected around eight players and coaches.
That meant, as per SPFL rules, their scheduled hosts Forfar Athletic collected a 3-0 win and left County immediately playing catch-up in a group also containing Brora Rangers and Montrose.
There were hopes Sunday’s clash with Dundee would be able to go ahead with County back in training, although boss Malky Mackay wasn’t expecting a full strength squad to be available, however, ultimately the Staggies decided they were unable to fulfil the fixture.
Ex-Hibs forward Shaw, 23, said: “The priority is that everyone is fit and healthy. The club have taken that into their own hands and rightly so.”
Target set from the start by Shaw
Injuries and team style reshuffles meant Shaw was in and out of the County team last term as John Hughes replaced Stuart Kettlewell in the dugout.
Yogi was not kept on after keeping the Dingwall outfit in the Premiership and has been replaced by Malky Mackay.
Striker Shaw netted eight times in 31 outings for the Staggies in the last campaign and is eager to kick on further this term.
He added: “Double figures, as a striker, is always the target. I want to hit that and hopefully have no injuries or Covid.
“I want to get a good run and strike up a good partnership with Jordan (White), if it is to be me and him up front, or whatever system the manager wants to play.”