Ranieri urging Covid-19 jabs for all players

Watford manager Claudio Ranieri would like all players to be vaccinated to help keep Covid-19 at bay.

Tottenham’s games against Rennes and Brighton were called off following a coronavirus outbreak at the London club, with Antonio Conte revealing the worsening situation had left everyone “a bit scared” and worried for their families.

Fellow Italian coach Ranieri, 70, feels players should take up the offer of a vaccine but accepts it is a personal choice.

“I think the more important thing is all the players must be vaccinated, because we play every three days now and meet a lot of players,” said Ranieri ahead of Watford’s Premier League match against Brentford on Friday, live on Sky Sports.

“It is important, the vaccine, because if something happens with the vaccine it is very slow – without the vaccine, it is a big risk.

“I understand Conte and I hope here in Watford everything continues to be okay.”

Ranieri added: “Of course I have to respect everybody, but they must know that we stay together and if they then come [with the virus], they can infect something, so then it is important that everybody must be vaccinated.”

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The Italian does not know how many of his Watford squad have been vaccinated but is confident the club’s own Covid-19 protocols are robust.

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“We have to continue in this way, it is very important to maintain the correct distance and make a Covid test every two days and go with a mask,” Ranieri said.

“We haven’t had a Christmas party… never… we stay at home with our family.

“We have all the restricted areas here, we are okay at the moment, but you know that Covid comes in every situation.”

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Brentford will again be without forward Ivan Toney, who himself is recovering from coronavirus, while Sergi Canos is suspended.

Ranieri, however, fully expects a stern test against the Bees, who have impressed so far on their Premier League debut.

“They can change everything because they play well and are well organised, so it is important that we know what we have to do to win the match,” the Watford boss said.

“Every game in the Premier League is a tough match and this will be very difficult, but we are ready to fight against everybody now.”

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Watford were beaten 3-1 at home by Manchester City last weekend, a third straight defeat which leaves them in 17th.

But the run of pre-Christmas fixtures could offer an opportunity to put some real distance between themselves and the bottom three.

“We know very well from the beginning that Watford is in the battle against relegation, but for now it is just important to get the points and don’t stop,” said Ranieri.

“Of course from now until Christmas, we want to put some points on our table, because we need them.

“We [must] have some continuity and consistency, that is very important.”

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Danny Rose has made nine appearances for Watford since joining on a free transfer last summer

With Adam Masina sidelined by a thigh strain, Danny Rose is set to again start at left-back. The 31-year-old came in for some criticism in the wake of the defeat by City.

Ranieri, though, feels the former England and Tottenham defender is still a “champion”, but needs to regain full match sharpness.

“Of course I am very confident with him, but he has to improve more,” said Ranieri.

“I remember Danny when he played at Tottenham and the national team – I need this Danny.

“He is a champion, he knows very well he is not ready enough, he has to push more.

“I see him during the training session to be pushing and always stay working hard. I hope he can achieve his high level like before.

“It is more fitness, because that was down when he came, he has improved a lot, now he needs to improve more. It is very difficult to say how long it will take.”

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