ACCRINGTON Stanley captain Seamus Conneely has spoken of his shock at how coronavirus ripped through the squad.

But the midfielder is determined to put a nightmare fortnight behind him and help the Reds pick up where they left off before their enforced shutdown.

Following the 2-0 defeat at Ipswich Town on October 17, Conneely missed the 1-0 win at home to Fleetwood Town after feeling unwell.

Coming out on top in the derby put Stanley on the cusp of the play-offs with three wins from four. But it proved to be their last game to date as the following day Conneely became one of the first players to test positive for Covid-19, along with seven others, while a member of staff was isolating for other reasons.

Then after a second round of tests the number of positive results swelled to 19, with 17 of them players, leading to a two-week club shutdown and the postponement of four games.

“I’m surprised how many lads had symptoms,” Conneely said.

“I always thought that if I got it I would be asymptomatic, I wouldn’t feel anything because of the nature of my job and I’m in a good level of fitness and I thought that would be the same for most footballers. But I know that the majority if not all of the players that tested positive had symptoms of some kind between a headache, a stiff back, the night sweats, feeling hot then feeling cold then feeling hot again. Everyone seemed to have symptoms. My smell and taste went and that was the last thing to come back.

“I’ve seen on the news a lot of the time where the majority of people are asymptomatic to this virus.

"That wasn’t the case with us which I thought was surprising because I thought of all the people that would be asymptomatic it would be young, professional sports people, but that wasn’t the case in this instance.

“I was surprised that it did feel the way it felt. It was not nice. It was a bad headache and stiffness and just basically wanting to go to bed, and that’s what the other lads were saying how they felt.

“Take away the isolation period I wouldn’t have been fit enough to play a game for the first six or seven days of it that’s for sure.

“I’d have felt like I would just have been a body, I wouldn’t have been able to contribute anything to the team. I had no energy, I don’t think my concentration levels would have been good because my head was pounding.”

The players came out of isolation and returned to training this week, and while they are being carefully monitored by the physio, club doctor as well as manager John Coleman and his backroom team, Conneely insists they are raring to go ahead of this afternoon’s FA Cup first round tie at Tranmere Rovers.

He added: “I’m not worried about any lasting effects of the illness because I’ve felt okay training this week.

"I was back in on Monday, Thursday was the first day when everyone was back in. Obviously people start their isolation periods sooner than others depending on when they develop symptoms, I was one of the first to develop symptoms so I was one of the first back in training.

“Everyone was back in on Thursday ready for Tranmere and we’ve got to try to carry on from the form we were in before we went into the isolation period because we were in decent form so we’re looking to get back to that as quickly as possible.

“I think it suits us that it’s a cup game first game back because we can kind of just throw everything we’ve got at it."

And rather than worry about a two-week break, when trying to maintain any fitness was a struggle not just because of the virus but also being unable to leave the house, Conneely is looking for positive knock-on effects

“It was great just to get out of the house,” he said. “The toughest bit for me was just getting my head around staying indoors for two weeks and trying to entertain two young children. That was tough enough.

“To get back onto the training pitch, kicking balls again, seeing the rest of the lads and listening to their experiences of the two weeks as well, and getting back to doing what we like to do, which is play football, it was brilliant.

“It’s like the kind of excitement you get for the first day of the season. I think that’s what the lads have been feeling for the last two weeks, just wanted to get back training and get back playing games again.”