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Conor McKenna’s COVID-19 diagnosis should not stop Essendon-Carlton AFL clash, Blues head of football Brad Lloyd says

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Carlton is pushing for Saturday night’s clash with Essendon to go ahead, as the AFL nervously awaits the results of further COVID-19 testing today.

The Bombers’ entire list will be tested at Marvel Stadium after defender Conor McKenna returned a positive result over the weekend.

There are fears the Bombers could lose their entire backline as health authorities edge closer to a determination on who was in “close contact” with McKenna.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said those who were will be forced to quarantine for 14 days.

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Essendon’s round three match against Melbourne was postponed indefinitely, causing a fixture headache for the AFL, but Carlton’s head of football Brad Lloyd said the Blues would prepare as normal for this week’s clash.

The Bombers and Carlton are set to play on Saturday night at the MCG.(AAP: Julian Smith)

“We’ll minimise any of that distraction,” Lloyd told radio station RSN.

“We’ve really prepared for this as an industry; 16-minute quarters, training in groups of eight, that’s all in preparation for if these moments happen.

The AFL on Sunday confirmed Essendon would be obliged to play under league rules that state games will proceed providing teams have 25 fit players — enough for a match day team and emergencies.

“That’s been our understanding,” Lloyd said.

“These (training) groups of eight is to minimise the number of players exposed so if you do have someone come up with COVID, it doesn’t take out your whole playing list.”

A beanie-wearing AFL footballer sits on the ground at training with his hands touching his feet.
Conor McKenna did not play in either of the Bombers’ first two games of the season.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

Essendon players have been in isolation since Saturday and those forced to serve the 14 days in quarantine will do so until July 4.

The AFL is reportedly considering pushing back the Essendon-Collingwood clash from July 3 to allow time for those players to return.

The entire Bombers backline took part in an indoor weights session with McKenna on Friday after a full-contact session with the entire list.

Players who test negative on Monday could still be quarantined if they are ruled to have come into close contact with McKenna.

AFL legal counsel Andrew Dillon hopes a decision will be reached imminently.

“There is a definition for close contact and it’s if you are face-to-face for more than 15 minutes or confined space for more than two hours,” Dillon told 3AW on Sunday.

“What we are doing with Essendon and working with the department on is saying how does that definition apply in an Essendon training circumstance.”

AAP

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