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Peter Canavan believes that Fermanagh will complete their Allianz League programme despite a Covid-19 outbreak in the senior football panel.

However, the former Erne boss has called on the GAA to allow counties to carry larger panels to protect them from situations such as that which his ex-Tyrone teammate and current manager Ryan McMenamin is currently dealing with.

Fermanagh have cancelled all club games for the rest of the year while inter-county training for their senior football, senior hurling and minor football panels has been halted for now.

McMenamin’s charges are due to play Clare in Ennis on Sunday week followed by a home game with Laois the following weekend to close out their campaign in Division Two of the Allianz League, where relegation and promotion issues are still very much outstanding.

They then play Down in the Ulster quarter-final on November 8.

“Well, if they’ve a big enough panel, I think they’re going to have to go ahead,” said Canavan.

“I’m not too sure of the numbers, is it five or six players they’re down at the minute? Yeah, so you could have five or six players out through injury, out through suspension.

“I know in Tyrone, maybe there was one or two players isolating. I don’t think there was any players in County Down that were affected.

“Obviously in Armagh there was five or six and they were forced to stop their training.

“Look, it’s far from ideal but with whatever players they have I still expect that they’re going to be participating in the National League.”

Covid-19 case numbers have rocketed in Northern Ireland of late, with the virus spreading at a far greater rate than in the south.

Canavan, who was speaking at the launch of Sky Sport’s 2020 Championship coverage, continued: “It is a concern, of course it is, but I still think we’ll have a Championship. The Government want elite sport to go ahead, rugby, soccer, Gaelic and I know the GAA are pretty adamant and confident that we should go ahead with it so for that reason I would be confident that, yes, we’ll definitely have it.

“County panels are going to be affected, it’s natural that players are either going to contract the Covid or in some cases be a close contact.

“So apart from that and the one issue arising out of that is, I know there’s restrictions on numbers that county panels have, I think the GAA’s going to have to look at that and increase their numbers so that counties aren’t in a position where they only have 17 or 18 players but I still think that yes, we’ll definitely have a Championship, it’ll definitely go ahead.”

Canavan cited students commuting from college in Belfast as a significant source of the spread of the virus.

“As far as I’m aware, the issue in Fermanagh has arisen from lads coming back from college, coming back from Belfast.

“I think a lot of people are ignoring, or maybe it’s going unnoticed, that a serious amount of cases have arisen and have stemmed from students coming back from college.

“It’s crazy, I know in most cases it’s blended… the universities are undertaking blended learning or remote learning but there’s still one in particular (that) appear to be adamant and are sticking to face-to-face learning and there’s a lot of students going up to Belfast, staying up there and coming down at the weekends again.

“The cases up around Belfast and the university area are very high so as well as the issues arising out of county finals, the issue of students up at university needs to be looked at as well and that’s out of the GAA’s hands of course.”

This content was originally published here.