IAN Maxwell, the Scottish FA chief executive, has defended the Covid-19 safeguards that Scotland had in place for Euro 2020 in the wake of the national team’s exit from the finals.

Billy Gilmour, the Chelsea midfielder who was named Man of the Match after the 0-0 draw with joint favourites England at Wembley on Friday night, tested positive for coronavirus on Monday.

The 20-year-old was ordered to self-isolate for 10 days at the Scotland hotel outside Darlington and missed the final Group D match against Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday night.

Steve Clarke’s men, who needed to beat the Russia 2018 finalists to qualify for the knockout rounds of a major tournament for the first time in their history, lost 3-1 and finished bottom of their section.  

John Fleck also contracted the virus during the pre-tournament training camp in Spain earlier this month and missed the friendly against the Netherlands in Portugal along with six players who had been in close contact with him.

However, Maxwell yesterday insisted SFA medical staff had adhered to strict UEFA protocols and taken every possible precaution both during the build up to the finals and in the tournament itself.  

“When Billy has his positive result everyone looks at it and thinks: ‘How can that happen?’,” he said.  

“But look at his movements just as part of his involvement with the team. He is in a hotel in Middlesbrough on Thursday. He is then on a bus, a plane, another bus, another hotel and into a stadium and onto another bus, another plane and so on. 

“That’s the difficulty of coronavirus. It really doesn’t need very much at all and you can contract it purely from touching the wrong thing at the wrong time. It’s so difficult to manage.”

Maxwell added:  “We are well versed in the protocols, we know exactly what the risks are and we have kept the players as secure as we can with a virus which is so difficult to manage. 

“Covid is still in our midst - you only have to look at the increased numbers reported yesterday. 

“In these situations you first have to think of the players and wish them a safe and speedy return because in sport we lose sight of the impact the virus has on people.

“We followed strict UEFA protocols throughout the tournament and we are thankful that we have Dr John MacLean - who’s has led Scottish football’s Covid protocol implementation from a medical perspective - as the national team doctor.”

England decided to put Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount, who had spent 20 minutes talking to their Chelsea team mate Gilmour in the tunnel after the game at Wembley, into quarantine on Monday.

Asked if Gilmour should have spent so long with Chilwell and Mount, Maxwell said: Everybody needs to be aware of the risks and throughout society there are reminders of the need to be extra vigilant and ultra-cautious even in a tested bubble.”