Harry Maguire conceded Manchester United’s 16-day break from Premier League action was a factor in their performance in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United.
The Red Devils were second best for long periods at St James’ Park and needed a second-half equaliser from Edinson Cavani to cancel out Allan Saint-Maximin’s fine opener and claim a point.
David de Gea produced a close-range stop to deny Saint-Maximin in the second half, with the Spain international also called on to thwart Miguel Almiron after Jacob Murphy had hit the post.
The below-par showing came after United had seen games with Brentford and Brighton and Hove Albion postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.
And Maguire told the club’s official website: “No 16-day break in the middle of a football season is going to help you.
“The training ground has been shut, and half the lads playing are recovering from the virus so of course it’s not going to help us.
“We’ve had people with symptoms, people without symptoms, it’s been a real mixed bag for everyone at the football club and it’s been a tough time.
“But you can’t make excuses for sloppy passes and the opportunities that we had, especially in the first half.
“We’ve got to stay on the ball, we’ve got to stay active and we’ve got to play the ball in their half and we didn’t manage to do that.
“You can look at that and ask whether the last 16 days had a big impact on that because it looked like we ran out of steam out there.
“A point in the end is a fair result, but it’s a result that we’re disappointed with.”
Praising De Gea, Maguire added: “David’s on great form at the minute. In big moments, it always seems to be, late on in games, that he’s always there to produce for us.”