KARL Robinson says the last few days are a ‘stark’ reminder of the consequences of Oxford United players not getting a Covid vaccine.

Gavin Whyte and Marcus McGuane tested positive for the virus before Saturday’s win at Sheffield Wednesday, forcing Mark Sykes to miss out as a precaution.

The midfielder was a suspected close contact of Whyte and would have had to isolate if that were the case, as he has not been double-jabbed.

After charting Sykes’s movements, United were satisfied he can return to training and he is available for tonight’s Papa John’s Trophy clash with Stevenage.

Read also: Karl Robinson clears up Covid confusion

The 24-year-old is not the only player yet to be vaccinated, despite Robinson encouraging his squad to get their jabs.

United’s head coach accepts it is an individual decision, but knows it would have avoided a similar headache to Saturday.

He said: “If you feel you can keep you and your family safe and you still don’t have the jab, then that’s fine.

“From a manager’s point of view, it makes our job easier if you have the jab.

“Maybe the reality of this scenario might change one of two things.”

He added: “I’d like my players to have the jab, that’s something they know.

“If you don’t have it, the world’s slightly different for you in the short term, maybe even the medium and long term.

“You’ve got to accept the regulations.”

Whyte and McGuane will miss the Stevenage clash, but United will be thankful they are only two players down.

In July, three players tested positive for Covid and a further nine had to isolate, hampering their pre-season preparations.

Robinson said at the time that United were deliberately being ‘overly cautious’ and he stressed the importance of following words with actions.

He added: “The stark reality of this illness is that it’s still there.

“The world is opening up and everyone feels we’re in a better place, but we still can’t forget about doing things in the correct manner.

“We just hope there’ll be a day when we all look back on this and it is a thing of the past.

“We have to do things the right way.

“Everything we do is in the public eye, so your actions are equally as important as what you say as it’s there for people to see.”

Only on Friday, the Australian state of Victoria made two Covid vaccinations mandatory for professional athletes.

“We like people to have the freedom to be who they want to be, but with this situation you have to be more aware of other people,” Robinson said.

“The big problem is when the authorities make it mandatory.”