IN a wide-ranging RangersTV interview, Club Doctor, Dr Mark Waller, has been outlining Rangers’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Light Blues haven’t played a match since March 12, and were only able to return officially to the Rangers Training Centre last week for pre-season training.
It’s been a challenging time for everyone, but Dr Waller has guided not only Rangers through it, but he has also had a major role in leading all of Scottish football to the position it now finds itself in.
Dr Waller explained: “It’s been very different to what we would normally be doing over the last three months, although we were quite fortunate in the respect we only had two injured players when lockdown actually commenced.
“Both of those were coming towards the end of their rehab, so we were able to spend a few days up here until lockdown really started planning for what we felt was going to happen.
“Then we were able to keep in pretty close contact over phone calls and chats on Zoom as although you can’t lay hands on people with that type of communication, you can still look at things.
“We were using lots of different tools as far as trying to maintain some knowledge of the actual quantity of work they were doing, so all of that data came through to us.
“So we were able to follow the rehab more or less as we would have done here, despite the fact we were actually apart.”
Rangers’ players have worked superbly well in their first fortnight back in Milngavie as they prepare hard for the new season, albeit, under some very different circumstances.
Dr Waller went on to explain what had changed, continuing: “We have been really quite keen to perhaps go a little bit above, certainly the Scottish league recommendations in the respect that we have tried to do everything we possibly can to take away as much risk as is possible.
“We get the players to do their questionnaire – which is a 10-point questionnaire each morning and they are expected to do that at home before they leave for the training facility.
“When they do arrive, providing all of the answers to the questions are negative, we then do a temperature check when they first arrive, and we do Coronavirus swabbing twice a week.
“The actual training itself is obviously different. As yet, we are not allowed to do contact training, so we are allowed to do training with two players in one quarter of the pitch, which is obviously a big difference for them and for the coaching staff.
“There are other things like we have a hydrotherapy pool which we can’t use, we have cryochambers – which are cold therapy for recovery – we can’t use those.
“There is quite a lot of testing equipment in the gym which we can’t use, and there is no dining room here – that’s closed.
“So there are lots of areas where things have changed, but what we have tried to do with the players is to say not what they can’t do, but what they can do.
“If we can try to be as positive as possible, then I think that actually stimulates the players.”
Dr Waller, who was previously the long-term doctor at Liverpool and has also worked for the FA, also explained the procedure should a player test positive for the virus.
“It all depends on whether they were symptomatic or not,” he added. “So if they are not symptomatic, what we would be doing is keep them away from the training facility for a period of seven days and then retest.
“Obviously, we would be keeping a very close eye on them and be in contact with them on a daily basis. It would also have implications for people in their own household who would then have to quarantine for two weeks.
“After seven days, we would retest them and if they are negative, then they can return to the training facility.
“If they are positive and they are symptomatic, then return to activity depends entirely on the severity of their symptoms and how long they go on for.
“Then we have a protocol to follow depending on those symptoms as to what we would then need to do.
“Those that have quite severe illness would have to go under far more extensive investigation prior to coming back to the training facility in the respect that we know the Coronavirus can affect the lungs, but it can also affect the heart.
“So we would have to be very careful that they hadn’t actually contracted a condition called myocarditis and other conditions you can get with this virus.”