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Chris Burke: I don’t know how I’d cope with another stint in lockdown

Celtic v Kilmarnock – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Kilmarnock winger Chris Burke fears his mental health could suffer a dip if he is forced to endure a third stint in lockdown.

The veteran winger was freed from a stint in self-isolation earlier this week after Alex Dyer’s entire Killie first-team squad was told to quarantine as six positive Covid-19 tests rocked Rugby Park.

But the former Rangers player is worried that because he was not among those who had contracted the virus, he still faces the risk of another morale-sapping spell in confinement.

Along with the rest of the country, the 37-year-old had to grit his teeth through the pandemic’s original spike back in the spring – but found his latest period in lockdown tougher to bear.

He told the PA news agency: “The last two weeks have been turmoil really. It’s madness how this world has been, it was just crazy finding out we had to self-isolate in our homes for two weeks.

“We had limited exercise for two weeks because we couldn’t go outside. That was probably the most difficult thing, not just for trying to maintain fitness but for your mental health as well.

“I won’t lie, I found it certainly tougher than the first lockdown we went through.

“Anybody who has done it will know what I’m talking about. Anyone who is facing having to go into quarantine will have to prepare themselves mentally for it.

“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy – and the thing is I might have to do it all again because I tested negative.

“If it had to happen again, I don’t know how I’d cope.

“I was just so happy when I was able to return to the training ground the day before the Dunfermline game and then play the game.”

Killie’s quarantine ruling also saw their Premiership clash with Motherwell postponed and a Betfred Cup tie against Falkirk forfeited.

Burke was one of six senior players who were given the go-ahead to join a group of youngsters for Tuesday’s 3-0 Betfred Cup defeat to Dunfermline, while the rest of the Dyer’s team returned to training on Wednesday ahead of the trip to Livingston on Saturday.

The Ayrshire boss tried and failed to have the clash at the Tony Macaroni Arena pushed back until midweek amid fears his players’ fitness levels had dipped in self-isolation – but saw his efforts rebuffed by Livi and the SPFL, which is insisting on games being played so long as both teams have 13 players available.

But Burke cannot believe the welfare of the Killie squad has not been taken into consideration.

He said: “We live in a different world now and we obviously have to change and adapt. So maybe we as a league should look to adapt during this crisis rather than stick to the same rules.

“We as a team all had to self-isolate but maybe the hierarchy should call us up and ask us how it felt, what did we feel like going back into training then having to play a game the next day.

“Did we think it was right? Did we think it was fair? What would we recommend?

“Once we do that the league can move forward and do a bit better.

“It’s unfortunate as we are probably going to be the first of many to go through this unless we change and adapt.

“I wouldn’t mind being the first guinea pigs to go through this as long as some common sense prevailed in the end.

“We cannot guarantee that the boys coming back for this game will be at the same fitness levels as they were three weeks ago, it’s impossible when you don’t have anywhere to train.

“The question I have is will it take a risk of injury or somebody to get seriously hurt for people to make a stand and change the rules.”

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