Harrogate Town confident that EFL Trophy tie with Carlisle United will go ahead despite Covid-19 issues

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver expects Tuesday evening's scheduled EFL Trophy clash with Carlisle United to go ahead.

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 2:31 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd January 2022, 2:32 pm
Harrogate Town beat Carlisle United 2-0 the last time the sides met. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Suphurites' League Two fixture against Port Vale was called off on Saturday due to a Covid-19 outbreak at Wetherby Road, leaving them unable to raise a side.

None of the players who tested positive on Friday will be available for selection when the Cumbrians visit in midweek, but Weaver is confident that, barring any more members of his squad contracting the virus, he will have sufficient numbers at his disposal.

This is despite winger Simon Power and striker Aaron Martin being sidelined through injury, midfielder George Thomson being suspended and forward Danilo Orsi having recently departed for Boreham Wood on loan until the end of the season.

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George Thomson set the Sulphurites on their way to victory at Brunton Park back in November, however he will not feature on Tuesday evening.

Targetman Mark Beck has returned from his spell with York City to boost the Harrogate ranks, while deals for two players who will be joining the club on loan from higher up the footballing pyramid will be completed prior to Tuesday's match.

Veteran defender Rory McArdle is expected to be fit enough to be included in a matchday squad for the first time since undergoing groin surgery in late September, while fellow centre-half Will Smith should also be okay.

"We're hopeful that Tuesday will go ahead, we think we will be okay," he told the Harrogate Advertiser.

"It [Covid-19] hasn't ripped through the camp, it's not rife, but we had enough cases that meant, on top of the injuries we already had, we were unable put a team out against Port Vale.

"But, by not allowing any of the players to car-share, hopefully we have limited the spread.

"And, by Tuesday, we will have Becky [Beck] back and deals finalised for a couple of players who are coming in on loan.

"We will have Will back in the squad and Rory back in the squad. How much we will push them straight away remains to be seen, but they'll have another training session on Monday that should help them get through Tuesday."

Town set up Tuesday's last-16 showdown with Carlisle by beating Tranmere Rovers 2-1 away from home on December 21, the last time any of their players kicked a ball in anger.

They have already played the Cumbrians in the league this season, triumphing 2-0 on the road at the end of November courtesy of goals from Thomson and Alex Pattison.

Kick-off at the EnviroVent Stadium is at 7pm.