Blackburn camp hit with swine flu

by Kevin Coleman

Football - Blackburn Rovers v Portsmouth Barclays Premier League

Blackburn Rovers have confirmed that three players and two members of staff have been diagnosed with swine flu.

Christopher Samba and David Dunn both missed the 5-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea on Saturday due to illness, although the club did not say which players had been struck down with the virus.

Rovers take on Peterborough in the Carling Cup on Tuesday and despite speculation, the game will definitely go ahead as planned.

Manager Sam Allardyce confirmed that the virus had broken out prior to the clash at Stamford Bridge at the weekend, and the club doctor is one of the members of staff to have caught the illness.

“It’s definitely swine flu – you’ve speculated on the names and I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

“We have had one more case this morning, one more player and there are a couple of staff.

“Other than that, the others that we left behind are recovering well but not available for tomorrow.”

A spokesperson for the Premier League confirmed Blackburn had made contact with them before the Chelsea match but that no postponement was requested – but Allardyce has criticised the league for guidelines binding clubs to play even if there is an outbreak of the virus.

“The Premier League has tried to sit on the fence by saying that we didn’t request to have the game called off,” he added.

“We knew we couldn’t get the game called off because we were told way back in February or March when we took some guidelines that unless there was some government legislation, everybody had to do whatever they had to do.

“If there was a swine flu outbreak, you couldn’t call a game off, no matter what. We knew we had to get 11 players on the field against Chelsea.

“We fulfilled our total, 100 per cent, responsibility by confirming two cases of swine flu and suggesting that it looks like one or two other players and members of staff had similar symptoms, and we made the same phone call to Chelsea.

“We just got on with it and put all the players we could together. We left about six players back here on stand-by, just in case a few more of the lads went down with symptoms on the Saturday morning – so we could get them on a train for the late kick-off.

“All those lads that were not quite 100 per cent said that they wanted to play and go out and do the best they could – and they did, so full marks to them.”

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