Newcastle Stars Saint-Maximin And Lascelles Suffer Long-Term COVID Symptoms

If you’re looking for a stern reminder of the threat posed by COVID-19 on even the fittest of athletes, look no further than Newcastle United and the lasting effects of an outbreak that initially began with a significant number of positive tests on Nov. 29. 

The day after, Newcastle’s entire first team squad went into self-isolation and a Premier League match against Aston Villa scheduled for Dec. 4 was ultimately postponed. It’s believed that the amount of positive tests ran into double figures.

Newcastle eventually returned to the pitch on Dec. 12 against West Brom with the story of that match being Isaac Hayden. COVID, according to Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, “knocked him to hell” but the defensive midfielder was inspirational in the 2-1 win.

While Hayden recovered, the story hasn’t been as straightforward for 27-year-old club captain Jamaal Lascelles and 23-year-old winger Allan Saint-Maximin. Neither have appeared since November, and it’s been revealed that the two are suffering from long-term COVID symptoms.

“For a couple of them it’s had a damaging effect,” Bruce told reporters back on Dec. 18. “It won’t be a week or two (that they’re out), it will be longer than that. It’s not just fatigue, they’ve got other symptoms too. It washed over most of them but some are finding it a struggle. My thoughts are with the two players and their welfare.

“It’s frightening when you think they’re young, fit and supreme athletes. If anybody needs reminding of how serious this is, then we have witnessed it. Some of them seem all right but then the fatigue element hits them, for two it’s beyond that. They’re still going to take weeks to get back; you wouldn’t think that this long Covid thing is possible in fit, young athletes.”

As for the symptoms, Bruce discussed “the full set.”

“We’ve had vomiting, sores, mouth ulcers, no smell, no taste. The fatigue element is a big problem. For the vast majority who had it, fatigue is the one thing the virus leaves. They go for a walk for half an hour and then want to go back to bed. It’s as brutal as that. It’s been a really difficult couple of weeks. It’s extremely difficult to manage.”

On Monday, following the confirmation of Lascelles and Saint-Maximin being the players previously discussed, Bruce spoke about the absences ahead of Newcastle’s EFL Cup quarterfinal against Brentford.

“At the moment, I think I have to (make changes),” Bruce said. “I have to monitor what we’ve got. Isaac has gone in at center back, and I can’t see that situation improving, so there’s a problem for us straight away. … As we speak today, the (Covid) numbers are far too high, and big players for us. It’s difficult, of course, but we’ve got to try and manage it as best we can, be sensible and take the advice that the medical people can tell us, and see where we get to.”

Along with Hayden, Lascelles and Saint-Maximin, it’s been reported that defenders Emil Krafth and Federico Fernández have also been among those impacted by the virus.

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