Judge on personal impact of Covid and why he wants football to continue
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town midfielder Alan Judge has revealed he was one of the eight players at the club to test positive for Covid-19.
The Blues had four games postponed over the festive and New Year period and, following 25 days without playing, are due to return to action with a televised home clash with Swindon Town tomorrow (5.30pm, Sky Sports).
“To be honest it was quite tough," said Judge. "I got confirmed as a positive case on the Friday just before Christmas. I had things planned with my kids in the week leading up to it, so to have 10 days indoors wasn’t nice. But the kids dealt with it very well.
“I was due to fly home and see my mam. She got diagnosed with cancer last March. Unluckily, she’s terminal. So I couldn’t get home. That was the really disappointing thing to be honest.
“Since March I’ve only managed to get home to see her two or three times. That’s nearly a year.
“The club have been great. Any time I've mentioned about going home they have gone ‘yeah, go, get yourself home’.
“So for me, on a personal side, it’s been difficult. But it’s been difficult for everyone. I'm not going to say it’s just been difficult for me.
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“All I can say is I’m one of the lucky ones. I can take my kids out to a park and this that and the other. I feel for the people who are in the inner cities, in an apartment, who can’t get their kids out... As I said, I'm one of the lucky ones. I honestly think that."
On his own experience of having Covid, Judge said: “I'm feeling good, I'm feeling alright. I think I've been one of the lucky ones. I am an asthmatic, but I had few symptoms. I had two or three days where it knocked me out, but other than that I’ve been one of the lucky ones. The one thing is I'm sleeping a lot more!
“The first game will tell us how it’s truly affected the lads who have had it. I think all the lads will feel that first 90 minutes because 25 days without a game is a long time."
It's been announced this week that the PFA will pay for twice weekly testing at all EFL clubs.
“I don’t understand why that wasn’t done at the very start to be honest," said Judge.
“I’m not sure the figures, but I think to get us all tested once a week costs 40, 50 grand. That’s a lot of money for a League One, League Two team to be paying out.
“It should never have got to the stage where clubs were having to pay out for it themselves. The EFL and the FA make enough money. We’re not Premier League teams. They should have been helping out from the start. For me it’s a bit late that they’ve come in to help.
“The PFA are doing what they think is right for their members. I think they’ve been driving it forwards.
“League One and League Two games were getting called off for a few weeks. Then all of a sudden, when a Premier League game gets called off there’s a problem. Do we not matter? We’ve got families. That was the thing that annoyed me. We should have been getting tested more regularly as soon as there was that second wave in October/November time. I don’t understand why it’s taken so long for it to come in."
Asked for his thoughts on whether a two-week circuit breaker would be good for football, Judge said: “I personally don’t think we should take a break. If you had a two-week break from games you’re still going to have players training and having contact between each other.
“I don’t see the point. If they catch it early enough, which I know is easier said than done, we should just go along. Two weeks, for me, would make no difference."
Does he think all players would share that view?
“I don’t think they would," he admitted. "I think some would say ‘I’ve got family’, which we all do. Some people might have kids or family members that have health problems that they can’t afford to put at risk, especially with this being a new variant that they say can transmit quicker.
“I can only speak for myself and say I am happy to play. I’ve had it. I feel like I’ve been one of the lucky ones with the symptoms that I’ve had.
“On my side, I’d be happy to keep playing. I think people need football. I want to play football.
“In my mind there’s nothing that would stop me playing football."
Asked whether there was a case to be made that footballers should be higher in the priority list for the vaccine, Judge said: “That’s a very difficult question. There’s more vulnerable people out there. I saw what (Burnley manager) Sean Dyche said yesterday, and it made great sense what he was saying, but I’d find it hard to make a case that footballers should be ahead of other people who are in desperate need of it to be honest."
With Ipswich now set to squeeze 28 games into 120 days, Judge said: “I heard that Accrington could be playing every four days if they get another game called off. And I think we’re close to that as well.
“The good thing is that we have got eight players coming back from injury. The squad will definitely be used because it’s impossible for players to play Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday for four, five weeks in a row. It’s ridiculous.
“This is just the world we live in at the moment. We'll be lucky enough, I think, to have a squad that’s big enough to deal with that."
Asked about his own form and that of the team, prior to the mini winter break, Judge said: “It’s been weird not having any fans. To be honest, some of the games feel like Under-23 games. Sometimes they are a bit slow. You just miss that atmosphere from the fans that gives you that extra lift. I think everybody can admit that fans give you that extra lift.
“I would say teams are playing a lot differently now. Teams are playing more of a passing game and trying to play out from the back. No fans gives you that bit more time. There’d be some fans, at some clubs, that might want you to get it from back to front a lot quicker. I think teams are able to work on their philosophy a bit more with no fans because they can be a bit more patient.
“Regarding myself, to be honest I'm at the stage in my career where I just want to play. I’m happy to do a job whether it’s left wing, right wing, up front, midfield. It doesn't bother me. I just want to play."
He continued: “We’re sitting seventh having not played for 25 days. Teams haven’t managed to pick up points around us.
“We’re missing eight players who, potentially, could play every week. So we can look at the positives there.
“We’re seventh, we haven’t played in a month, teams haven’t been able to capitalise and we’ve got players coming back.
“I don't know if we'll sign anyone, that’s not down to me, but I think the players coming back, because they’ve been out such a long time, will be like new players. I think they’ll give us a big lift.
“We just have to be careful with them now. I think before, some players, including myself, have put ourselves back out there too quick and got re-injured.
“They’re big players though. The two players you mentioned there (Flynn Downes and James Norwood) have been back out on the grass and look good."
He added: “I think we’re doing okay at the minute. I know it hasn’t been great over the last month, but sometimes you have to put that positive look on it.
“Hopefully it will be a good start to the year on Saturday.
“I think Swindon are in an unlucky position, to be honest. From what I’ve seen of their games they are a decent team with good young players. We have to be very wary of them because I don’t think they deserve to be in the position that they are at this moment in time."