WATCH | Shamrock Rovers midfie...


WATCH | Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne on LOI return

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Midfielder Jack Byrne is eager to return to action on the pitch with Shamrock Rovers but says "there can't be any risk involved".

Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Derry City continued their preparations for Irish football's safe return as players and staff from the four clubs underwent testing for Covid-19, under the supervision of Medical Director Dr Alan Byrne.

It was the first step as part of the pilot programme and tournament for the four SSE Airtricity League outfits due to compete in Europe this year.

"We just got a little swab taken at the back of our throats and it was all done in less than 20 seconds," Byrne told FAI TV.

"It's fine. We’re all happy to be tested and hopefully we'll be back training soon."

The SSE Airticity League season was only five weeks old before the FAI shut down all football under its jurisdiction due to the pandemic.

Byrne admits that he is missing every aspect of club football during the layoff and he believes that when it comes back it can have a hugely positive effect.

"I think it’s important for everybody in the country that football gets back and we're taking the necessary steps for that to happen and to get back when it’s safe to do so," said Byrne.

"I think everybody's in the same boat. I think everybody's missing their team-mates, missing the manager and missing Friday nights under the lights.

"But they are the circumstances we're in at the moment and we know that we have to everything we can to stay safe at the moment.

"When we are able to come back, we have to make sure we are fit and ready to put smiles on people's faces again by playing football."

While Byrne is champing at the bit to get back out onto the pitch, he knows that there cannot be any chances taken in order to resume the season.

"Football is such a big part of this country and we obviously want to get back playing but we need to do it when it's right and when it's safe to do so," he added.

"I think we're taking the measures that we need to, to come back and hopefully soon but we'll come back and it will be safe to do so and there can't be any risk involved."

The FAI say that test results from all players and staff in the pilot programme will be available later this week.

They will be assessed by the FAI Medical team who will link in with Government and HSE officials as they work together on a return for sport.

Dr Byrne is a member of the Government’s Return to Sport expert group and has overseen the pilot programme for the four clubs that will inform all decisions on a pathway for Irish football to return in a safe environment by the end of August.

"Today is a significant day as we plot our return for all football in Ireland in a safe environment for players, staff, officials and volunteers," said Dr Byrne.

"We must take slow and deliberate steps in this COVID-19 pandemic and testing of these four squads is crucial as we look to deliver this pathway to a safer return to football for all elements of our game.

"We have begun the process for players at all levels, not just for those tested today under the pilot programme. Once we start to analyse the results of these tests, we can move forward.

"We will test the players from these four clubs again before they return to training on June 8th and then again regularly when they are back on the training field.

"Everything we do now is designed to ensure that football can return for everyone as soon as it is safe and responsible.

"We owe that to all our players, from the elite players in the League of Ireland to the schoolboys and schoolgirls who want to get back on the pitch with their clubs but their health and safety must come first.

"This is the first step and a significant step in that process."

The FAI say they will continue to work with Government departments and the HSE while all decisions on a safer return for football for all will be made in conjunction with the State agencies and will be dependent on their approval.

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Bohemians Derry City Dundalk FAI Jack Byrne SSE Airtricity League Shamrock Rovers

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