JAMES Henry admits it is tough for footballers to remember Covid protocols when they celebrate goals.

Players at all levels have been criticised for hugging after scoring, at a time when the rest of the country lives under strict social distancing rules.

It has prompted fears the game could be suspended, with English Football League (EFL) chief executive Trevor Birch telling clubs “now is not the time for complacency”.

With players subject to tight restrictions off the pitch, Henry knows it can be tough to remember the rules when feelings are running high.

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The Oxford United midfielder said: “I can understand why people are saying it, but it’s very hard to control your emotions in those situations.

“You’re almost not thinking, it’s not that you’re actively making a decision to break the rules.

“It’s just a split second of delirium.

“Yes, we need to try and do better.

“You’re not tested right before the game, so obviously you don’t know for sure (if you don’t have Covid).

“We do our best to keep our contact down with one another so we’re not spreading the virus.”

The tightening of restrictions before England went into its third lockdown saw the EFL issue updated guidelines for clubs to follow at training grounds.

This aims to minimise time spent indoors, with players changing and showering at home.

It means United’s squad can keep their distance off the pitch, but Henry knows that can be impossible away from the club.

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The 31-year-old said: “It’s difficult in personal situations.

“My little man goes to nursery and my missus works full-time, so you just have to be as careful as you possibly can and follow all the guidelines.

“We’re very good here, the guidelines are very stringent.

“If that means getting cold for a few hours, it means getting cold.

“It’s just part and parcel of life at the moment and we have to deal with it.”

Elite sport is allowed to continue during lockdown three, but regular coronavirus testing only began this week across the EFL.

After dozens of games were postponed over Christmas, Henry hopes the new measures mean football can continue.

He said: “We’re lucky that our job is still being allowed to go ahead.

“Two tests a week makes it more likely it’ll stay running.

“Hopefully it will make the infection rates drop in football, so we can see more games on regularly and give the fans something to look forward to.”