Fear of testing positive for coronavirus hangs heavy over Chorley squad, says FA Cup hero Connor Hall
Chorley striker Connor Hall has admitted the fear of testing positive for coronavirus has hung over the club's preparations for Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie against Derby.
One of the biggest fixtures in the National League North club's history has already been hugely impacted by the virus, with news that Derby's entire first-team squad and interim manager Wayne Rooney will not travel to Victory Park following an outbreak at the Championship club.
That will leave Chorley facing a team made up from the Rams' under-23 and under-18 squads, and they will do so behind closed doors as they miss out on the usual fanfare of a big third-round tie.
The Chorley squad has so far not been affected, with 40 tests completed and all negative to date.
But Hall said it was something that the players had been thinking about throughout the build-up.
"I think that's always at the back of your mind," he said. "Everyone is trying their best to follow the Government guidelines and stuff, which is always tricky when you have such exciting times coming up.
"You want to be around your friends and family, but everyone is doing their best to follow the guidelines and hopefully we will all come back negative again.
"It's come at the worst time with it being Christmas and New Year. It's been difficult staying in during that time. It was still nice and I was with my girlfriend and her mum and dad and we still managed to have a great time."
Hall has been the hero of Chorley's cup run to date, scoring the extra-time winner in the 3-2 first-round victory at Wigan, and then getting the equaliser when they came from behind to win 2-1 away to Peterborough last time out.
"They were both quite important goals with the games being so close, so hopefully there's a repeat on Saturday," he said.
"The first one, the Wigan goal, was probably the most important one because without that it looked like we were going to go to penalties. Being the winner in extra-time was really good, it was probably one of the better goals I have scored too in terms of the build-up."
The absence of Derby's key players will no doubt help, even if it deprives Chorley of the chance to test themselves against a Championship side, but Hall said the make up of the opposition did not need to affect Chorley's preparations.
"We're just focusing on the game," he said. "Not knowing what sort of team they will put out doesn't really affect us. We've got our game plan and that's why we have done well this season, we've not worried about other teams."
For all the memories Chorley have created so far, the main disappointment for the Magpies is that they have had to do it without their fans.
"It has been tough; it's not been the same," Hall said. "But with the first and second rounds being on telly, it's been good for the fans to be able to watch the games.
"Everyone has been following our success in the cups and with it being on the telly again on Saturday, they will all be watching again."