Hopes of a COVID uninterrupted football season this year appear to be wishful thinking.
Several clubs returning for pre-season training this week after the Christmas break have already been rocked by a lack of numbers.
Players have been forced to miss training as they either recover from COVID or are in isolation after becoming a close contact of somebody with COVID.
Wodonga Raiders have been one of the clubs hardest hit so far.
Coach Marc Almond was unable to take the Raiders' first training session since Christmas on Monday after contracting COVID on a recent trip to Port Douglas.
Almond said eight players were also missing due to circumstances related to COVID including Morris medallist Jarrod Hodgkin.
"We had a stack of blokes miss training because they were in isolation," Almond said.
"Jarrod Hodgkin, Connor Taylor, Cooper Smith, Jake Bradshaw and Max Glass were just a few off the top of my head.
"I couldn't take training because I'm still recovering from COVID.
"The first week knocked me around a fair bit and I was really crook for a good five days.
"Now my son has caught it which means I have to isolate for longer and won't be able to take training next week either."
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Wodonga football manager Darren Mathey said the Bulldogs were missing six players on Tuesday night who were in isolation.
One Hume league club had similar numbers absent, also due to players being forced to isolate.
Almond believed clubs will be forced to juggle with player unavailability due to COVID for the upcoming season.
"I don't profess to be an expert in COVID," Almond said.
"But we have already put things in place to help prevent the spread.
"Players have to bring their own drink bottle and have been instructed not to give each other high-fives.
"You would think the way things are trending that clubs could be missing several players on some weekends.
"I read somewhere that the Western Bulldogs could have up to 15 players missing for their AFLW clash this weekend.
"In my opinion, that's what club's in this region will also have to deal with at stages during the season."
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