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England play down Covid concerns after illness affects build-up to Headingley Test

Batting coach Trescothick tests positive as captain Stokes misses training despite negative test

Ben Stokes looks on from the balcony during England's chase in the second Test  •  Getty Images

Ben Stokes looks on from the balcony during England's chase in the second Test  •  Getty Images

England's team management have played down concerns about a potential Covid outbreak within the squad for the third Test at Headingley, after the team's batting coach Marcus Trescothick tested positive for the virus on the same day as the captain, Ben Stokes, was absent with an unspecified illness.
Trescothick was absent from the first day of training at Headingley, ahead of Thursday's final Test against New Zealand, and instead was isolating at home where he will be monitored daily. Details of his return to the set-up will be announced in due course.
At the time of writing, the ECB are not imposing blanket testing on the rest of the players and staff unless they are showing symptoms. A spokesperson for the organisation confirmed that all are symptom-free at present.
That includes the captain, Stokes, who was also not on deck in Leeds due to illness. He did however take a test on Tuesday morning which returned negative. He will not test again unless his symptoms are specific to Covid-19.
Stokes fell ill over the weekend while back in Cockermouth and as a result has yet to join the team in Leeds. He was originally planning to be in situ on Monday with the squad officially due to convene at the ground the next morning for an afternoon training session. The expectation is Stokes will be in attendance on Wednesday and will be able to take his position in the XI for Thursday's start, with England leading New Zealand 2-0 going into the final Test.
Trescothick's positive test is England's first of the series, a contrast to their opponents who have had to deal with absences throughout the last few weeks. Henry Nicholls, Blair Tickner, Kane Williamson, Michael Bracewell and Devon Conway have been struck down on this tour, along with two members of staff. The most dramatic was Williamson, whose diagnosis came about on the eve of the second Test at Trent Bridge, ruling him out of the match and requiring Tom Latham to deputise as captain.
Williamson, along with Bracewell, returned to training on Tuesday morning, while Conway's five-day isolation period has elapsed. Speaking to the media, Trent Boult confirmed a clean bill of health across the board: "Everyone's healthy and available for selection," he said.
17.42GMT This story was updated following news of Marcus Trescothick's positive Covid test

Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo