Gary Holt insists it is wrong to ‘lambast’ clubs in Covid-19 fight


GARY HOLT reckons critics have been too quick to ‘lambast’ Premiership clubs during the ongoing battle with Covid-19.

Livi will be without two first-team players for a mandatory 10-day period after they returned positive tests prior to Tuesday’s Betfred Cup tie against Stenhousemuir.

One of those individuals was revealed by Holt to be goalkeeper Max Stryjek and, with Robby McCrorie on international duty, 38-year-old Gary Maley is the Lions’ only senior stopper available for tomorrow’s Betfred Cup tie against Airdrie.

Livingston number two Max Stryjek, formerly of Sunderland | Livingston news
Stryjek will be absent until next week (Pic: LFC Live)

Scott Tiffoney was the other surprise omission from the matchday squad for the Stenny clash and is understood to be the second positive.

However, another round of testing took place in midweek and, as of late Thursday afternoon, no further players were found to have contracted the virus.

And, while wishing a speedy recovery to the players who have contracted Covid, Holt believes the lack of spread is a testament to the measures in place at Livi.

“The protocols we have in place and the way we’ve run things means that we aren’t together,” explained Holt. “We have three separate changing rooms, eat at different times, get changed at different times.

“The only time we are actually together is when we are on the training pitch.

“So as soon as the tests came back positive, it was ‘bang, let’s go’ and we did what we needed to. On Thursday afternoon there were no other positives.

“That’s down to Derek White [COVID-19 officer] and the people who work with him at Livingston. I’m just in charge of the football side of things – whereas these people at clubs don’t get enough praise.

“I’m happy that the measures we have put in place – the hours that have been spent getting it right – seems to have contained things.”

And while there have been a handful of egregious, well-publicised breaches of Covid-19 protocol by footballers, Holt is adamant clubs generally deserve far more praise for the work being put in to ensure the sport can safely continue.

Livingston manager Gary Holt | Livingston news
Livingston boss Gary Holt

The likes of Hamilton, Kilmarnock and St Mirren have all endured outbreaks this term.

And Holt continued: “We seem to be quick to lambast them when something goes wrong – if someone catches the virus then it needs to be someone’s fault. That shouldn’t be the case.

“It [Covid] is out there, is widespread and until we get this vaccine, people are going to get it.

“We need to open up society and have people working but, with that in mind, you can’t have a go at footballers every time there is a positive.”

Holt, meanwhile, has joked that Maley’s unexpected run in the team has him demanding a new deal – just six months after going viral when his future was supposedly left up to a Twitter poll.

The one-year extension would have been signed either way, but fans voted in his favour regardless, and the publicity stunt hit the headlines as far away as the USA and raised cash for children’s charity, the John O’Byrne Foundation.

Gary Maley signs his one-year deal during the summer | Livingston news
Gary Maley signs his one-year deal during the summer

Holt added: “Gary comes in and trains hard. He’s a great big boy. He knows he is getting towards the end of his career and loves every moment of what he is doing, and wants to be part of it. He has never once let this club down.

“I have no fear about putting him in – whether it’s at Ibrox, Parkhead or Stenhousemuir because I know what he does and what he can offer.

“The only problem now is he wants another contract! I’ll need to try to keep that in check. He keeps telling everyone around the club, he’s the only keeper with a clean sheet in the cup.”