Shrewsbury Town's coronavirus surge shocked Joshua Daniels

Derry man Joshua Daniels has urged everyone, no matter what age they are, to take coronavirus serious after witnessing first hand the impact it can have.
Joshua Daniels with fiancée, Hannah, and daughter Zahra.Joshua Daniels with fiancée, Hannah, and daughter Zahra.
Joshua Daniels with fiancée, Hannah, and daughter Zahra.

The Shrewsbury Town midfielder only came out of isolation at the weekend after many of the club’s first team squad were struck by the virus which left manager Steve Cotterill in intensive care at the weekend.

Thankfully Cotterill is now recovering with assistant boss Aaron Wilbraham providing an encouraging update on the former Sligo Rovers manager’s condition.

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“Steve has been in intensive care and it has been quite worrying. It has been an emotional weekend, but I have spoken to him in the last couple of days, and he’s starting to get better. He has been cracking a few jokes so I know he’s improving. It’s a relief,” explained Wilbraham.

As for Daniels, he admits to being taken aback at the pace the virus spread through the club and he fearing for his fiancée, Hannah, and daughter Zahra.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand how dangerous coronavirus can be until they actually see it up close. When it hit our squad and you see young, fit players not well and struggling, it’s crazy and very scary,” insisted Daniels.

“A lot of people assume if you’re young and healthy, you’ll be fine, but it hits people differently so from my point of view I just had to look after myself, my missus and my wee woman.

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“It’s a challenging time for everyone but we just have to stick to all the protocols and guidelines. As footballers we have a chance to entertain people and know we are in a privileged position, but it’s quite dangerous as well as this shows.”

The 24-year-old conceded that while he’s looking forward to this evening’s FA Cup tie at Premier League side, Southampton, he’s still well aware that Covid-19 remains a huge threat in society.

“For a while we were blessed in that we were one of the clubs that hadn’t got any Covid 19 cases but yeah when it got in it just spread like wildfire,” he added.

“Obviously with the isolation and stuff, we had no training and stuff but I’m just glad now that the isolation period is over and we are now back training.

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“Sunday was only our second day back after a number of weeks but thankfully it looks like most of the squad are alright. Obviously the gaffer is still in hospital so fingers crossed he can get out soon, recover at home and then hopefully return when fit.

“The protocols are all in place, so hopefully we don’t get it again any time soon, because the scary thing is it is still everywhere.

“We are now fully focused on getting a game plan sorted for Southampton and giving it everything that we have.”

If he’s in Shrewsbury’s squad for tonight’s cup tie, it will be the first time Daniels will have faced top flight players and he knows that the League One side will be up against it.

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However, prior to their enforced break ‘The Shrews’ had won four of their last five games, only conceding one goal during that run, an impressive run of form that saw Cotterill voted ‘Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month’ for December.

Nevertheless, the ex-Derry City winger knows he and his team-mates will be stepping up a notch or two in terms of class when they face ‘The Saints’.

“Southampton have been flying but Premier League teams are all going to be unbelievable technically and tactically, we know we are going to be under pressure,” he explained.

“When we were playing the top teams in League One in December, we knew that we had to dig in at times and we showed that we can do that having gone through a bad spell and pulled ourselves out of it.

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“We know this is a big step up but it’s about us going there and giving them something a bit different to defend against. We know they are likely to have more possession but we have to try and impose ourselves on them at times and not roll over for them. They are a top, top team and it’s going to be some match up for us.

“You never know what might have happened if we hadn’t had to take that break because we were flying coming into January. We had so much momentum but we are back now and we have to make the most of it.”

After reaching the FA Cup fourth round last season when they narrowly lost to champions, Liverpool after a replay, the former Glenavon man would love another memorable cup tie in what will be only the second time he has ever visited at Premier League ground.

“I have only been to one Premier League match and that was Man United so, yeah, going to Southampton is going to be a great experience. Even doing a warm-up on the pitch would be great but at the minute I don’t know if I’m going to play. Either way it’s an unbelievable game to come back from our break with.

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“Seeing the standard of Southampton would be nice. It goes without saying it’s going to be a massive ask but there have been quite a few upsets already this year. Last year we gave Liverpool a good go so, yes, we are all looking forward to it.

“I’m sure the club are hoping that we can cause an upset because straight away on the Saturday we would be home to Arsenal and it’s strange you know who you would face in the next round but we are living and playing in strange times. They have even done the draw for the following round with Wolves/Chorley playing the winner’s of the Arsenal tie.

“We can all dream about a cup run and it would be lovely to get a good result on Tuesday. If we don’t, it won’t be for the lack of trying.”

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