Stand-in Dundee United manager Thomas Courts backs club's Covid-19 protocols after photo emerges

Stand-in Dundee United manager Thomas Courts has backed the club’s Covid-19 protocols after a squad group photo emerged on Friday showing players and coaching staff in close proximity to one another.

LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 05: Dundee United's Mark Reynolds (R) and coach Thomas Courts at full time during the Scottish Premiership match between Livingston and Dundee United at the Tony Macaroni Arena on December 05, 2020, in Livingston, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

It is unknown whether the photo session was the source of a Covid-19 outbreak that has seen nine players along with manager Micky Mellon and assistant Stephen Frail forced into a period of self-isolation.

Although able to field a strong first XI against Livingston, United were pressed into naming as many as seven teenagers on the bench. Second half goals from Scott Pittman and skipper Marvin Bartley saw the home side deservedly take all three points.

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Youth academy coach Courts was required to take the team alongside head performance coach Adam Asghar, who is the son of the club’s sporting director, Tony.

Asked if there had been unreasonable criticism about the squad photo, Courts said: “I feel you are having a go at me here, because there’s 49 people and I did not get an invite! It shows how highly rated I am!

“I am not aware of that because as part of the academy staff and Under-18s we are outside the bubble. It is actually difficult to get remotely near the first-team environment. An indication of how well the club orchestrates their protocols is that I hardly ever see the first team players.”

Courts was in regular contact with Mellon, who watched the game on a live feed from his home and gave a pre-match team talk via Zoom.

“The alterations he wanted were hitting us pretty quickly,” he said. “We were able to act on what he wanted and hopefully we carried that out. He is the manager of the football club. He can do as he sees fit. The only benefit we had was being here and being able to feel the game. He knows his players and he knows what he wants.

“Just before half time he got a message to us about an alteration he wanted and we delivered that, we spoke to the players and they responded well. I addressed the players fully at half-time.”

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