JOHN Coleman insists he will not be using Accrington Stanley's coronavirus crisis as an excuse if they do not hit the ground running on their return.

The Reds are back in action for the first time in almost three weeks on Saturday, after 17 players and two members of staff tested positive for Covid-19.

Their last game was a 1-0 home win over Fleetwood Town in League One.

With individuals having since experienced a range of different symptoms, and a two-week shutdown at the club, Coleman says it is too early to tell how the outbreak has affected his players physically.

Nevertheless, he insists they will be going all out to win their FA Cup first round tie away to Tranmere Rovers.

"It would be easy to hide behind excuses, we're not going to do that. We'll get ourselves as best prepared as we can for Saturday and we'll give it a right go.

"We've got a long season ahead of us, lots of midweek games to catch up on. We'll address each game as they come and try to do it to the best of our ability.

"I hold the FA Cup in high regard. We always want to go as far as we can in this competition, whether there's money at stake or not. That is a key factor to us but we'll try our best to win the game like we always do.

"The FA Cup means a lot to me and I certainly want a good run in it."

But he is mindful that the after effects of such a virulent virus could still be affecting the players who tested positive.

"You won't know until you actually start playing again," he said. "A couple of the lads have trained (earlier) this week, the whole squad has trained today and we've got a training session tomorrow and we'll assess it from there.

"You don't want too many losing their fitness and hopefully they won't lose it in the space of two weeks. That's something that we are mindful of but you'll only know when you actually play the game.

"We just have to give it the best go we can. It might take two or three games to get back to full fitness, you never know, you've just got to give it your best shot.

"We've got a decent (sized) squad and we'll use them accordingly when we see fit."

And Coleman is looking to put a difficult time behind them.

"You're constantly thinking 'is there going to be any casualties from this long-term', you want everyone to be healthy and you want their families to be healthy," he said.

"A lot of them will have contact with elderly people and you've got to be mindful of that. That's what's at the forefront of your mind first and foremost.

"It has been hard. We're in uncertain times and constantly evolving and changing and obstacles getting put in front of you.

"Obviously there are more things to concern yourself about, you want people to be safe, there are a lot of people dying, but from our point of view from the professionals' perspective it's been difficult. A lot of the lads have been ill, it's very rare you get an outbreak of illness of this magnitude. I couldn't remember that in my whole career - 19 with two staff to be laid up with it.

"They have reacted differently, some have had aches and pains, some have had heavy colds, some have lost their taste. It's been quite different throughout. You're never quite sure how much you're over it until you actually get into the nitty gritty of playing.

"You'd be guessing if you could decide when or how it happened, or who caught it first. We've just got to look forward now and not look too much backwards.

"But these are strange times for everybody in the world at the moment and we're just a small part of it.

"It has taken its toll but we're back into training now and hopefully we'll be in a position to be able to compete on Saturday."