JOHN Coleman says Accrington Stanley will do their "very, very best" to navigate what he fears will be a tough couple of weeks, after admitting he underestimated the impact the coronavirus outbreak would have on his players.

A total of 17 players, and two members of staff, tested positive for Covid-19 in the days after League One games away to Ipswich Town and at home to Fleetwood Town last month, leading to a two-week shutdown of the club.

Four games were missed in that time while those who contracted coronavirus spent up to a fortnight in isolation, unable to do any sort of training while they recovered.

And Coleman explained they are now seeing the knock-on effects with no only a widespread impact on general fitness levels but also an increase in soft tissue injuries as a result of their enforced hiatus.

"It's become a massive problem and I've got to hold my hand up, I've underestimated the toll it's taken on us," said the Stanley boss.

"We're losing players through soft tissue injuries as well, players are trying to get up to speed with their lungs.

"It's just far from ideal but you've got two ways of going at it and we had a good chat with the players and we said 'we can feel sorry for ourselves or we can get on with it and do our very, very best', and that's what we're going to do. We'll do our very, very best. We won't use it as an excuse, we won't hide behind it, we're going to get through.

"It's going to be hard times but there are people who are a lot worse off than us. There are people fighting for our lives so we should be blessed that most have come through it relatively unscathed and we've just got to work on our fitness, get our touch right, get our energy levels up, get our enthusiasm going in the right direction and play every game like our lives depend on it."

Ahead of tomorrow's trip to League One newcomers Northampton Town, which is the third in a run of six games in 18 days, Coleman said this was a situation like no other that he had experienced in football.

"It's totally unprecedented," he said.

"You have bouts of sickness and I've gone through them in my career where we've had a bout of sickness with six or seven players who've had the flu, or had diarrhoea or stomach upsets and that, but not of this magnitude. We've had 17 players get a relatively new illness that no-one knows what the repercussions short term or long term are.

"We did it properly, they all had heart scans and ECGs just to make sure that we weren't going to push ourselves to life threatening situations so that was all cleared but you can't quantify how much it's taken out of players.

"We've just got to do our very, very best."

The first of Stanley's four postponed games has been re-arranged for Tuesday, away to Swindon Town. But Coleman says with the situation they are in, they cannot plan beyond tomorrow's game at the PTS Academy Stadium.

"It's the equivalent of someone looking where their next meal is coming from, and that's all we're looking at really. Our next concerted effort is Northampton and we certainly can't look any further than that," said the Reds chief, who is not reading too much into their opponents' poor home form.

"I've watched them play and I know they can be a handful. They've got good players who can hurt any team in our league so we've just got to try to get ourselves as fit as we can, as strong as we can and give it our best shot."

Colby Bishop missed the midweek win at Barrow, as Stanley topped their group in the Papa John's Trophy.

"We've got four or five who are struggling to train this week and that's not ideal with the amount that we've lost already," Coleman added.

"It's a case of patching everybody up and getting a team out there for Saturday."