There are strong indications that professional football clubs will adopt operation mind your water bottle when the leagues return after the virus forced embargo.
It’s the pitch side bottle-throwing habit which drives some Premier League club doctors mad.
A player will catch one, drink from it and throw it back over the white line from where it will be placed back in the rack for anyone else to use — a ready-made means to transmit the viruses to which elite players can be particularly prone.
One doctor speaks of pushing to get name labels put on bottles to prevent a virus spreading in such an elementary way but it was a struggle. Players in prime physical fitness, playing elite football week-in week-out, think they’re untouchable.
The Covid-19 virus has revealed they are as prone to infection as anyone else. Within a 12-hour period late on Thursday, no fewer than five Premier League players were self-isolating, with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi both confirmed as infected.
A number of clubs are organising their own testing procedures. Yet the physical rigours of the elite football environment also have an effect on players’ immune systems which have always made players susceptible to viruses.
‘Professional players have been shown to be regularly immunosuppressed,’ former Chelsea doctor Dr Eva Carneiro tells Sportsmail. ‘This has been demonstrated by both blood tests and the rate and incidence of upper respiratory tract and other infections, which is how a virus like this starts. That’s due to the amount of sport they play. The physical activity, playing at a professional level, with games sometimes every 72 hours, as well as training creates a strain on the body.’
The risk is compounded by overseas travel. ‘It means they have to enter an airport even though they might be travelling by private jet,’ adds Dr Carneiro who was at Chelsea for six years.
“’Travel can also mean a change in sleep patterns, arriving back in the early hours of the morning, creating a fatigue which again can make players susceptible.’