Dundalk are pushing hard to be allowed to return to training this week despite the FAI’s recommendation that the League of Ireland’s four European representatives must wait until June 8th.
The SSE Airtricity League Premier Division champions were aiming to train today but that target was put on hold when the FAI’s chief medic, Dr Alan Byrne, advised clubs not to train even in groups of four until next month.
Manager Vinny Perth has challenged that advice and insists that every precaution possible has been taken to ensure their players are protected from Covid-19 when they return to Oriel Park. Negotiations are now ongoing as Dundalk bid to return for training later this week.
Speaking last night, the 43-year-old said: "We thought we could train from Monday as per HSE guidelines but obviously there was a new document sent out on Friday so we're at a stage where we're discussing with the FAI our roadmap and why theirs is different.
"There's emails back and forth and various discussions. I've even spoken to Niall Quinn myself. We're trying to work together but obviously the medical officer of the FAI is leading this. It's a difficult one to comment on.
"To be fair to the FAI they're in a very difficult situation because we're in a pandemic but League of Ireland players will work this week, of that I've no doubt, whether it be on building sites, in shops or outdoors but our players can't and I'm not sure that's right. Four of my players who live together were due to come in for a soft opening to test all our new facilities and measures that we've put in place.
“The four lads are all obviously bitterly disappointed now but they may now all go and play a round of golf together. That's where we're at."
While Perth watched one of the Bundesliga matches at the weekend on its return, he said he was more concerned with what other nations were doing right now, as opposed to Germany.
I only watched one of the games and I was very impressed by it. It looked like there was a lack of fitness, which was interesting, and that's part of my concern at the moment.
"I think the mistake that Irish people make is we look at the UK and Germany for guidance but there are so many other leagues up and running, for example Serbia which would equate more to Irish football than Germany or England. We need to stop looking at them (Germany and England).
“My focus at the weekend was looking at what other leagues are doing that are more comparable to Irish football.
"From a Dundalk point of view, my concern is that clubs all over Europe are beginning to return to training or playing. My understanding is that Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Serbia, Poland and Estonia have all returned and they're all countries whose clubs we are likely to play against so we'd be concerned for that competition that we'd be behind."
Perth insisted he was confident his squad could train safely in small groups having put together a Covid document with the medical team at the club over the last few weeks.
"We went as far as training our Covid officer through the HSE," he said. "It took him six hours to become a Covid officer. I don't think any other club has gone to that detail.
"I've really driven this and this is where my business background helps in the sense of we've everything covered to within an inch of its life. We've ticked every box and done everything we can do so I'm shocked by what was announced on Friday."