The Tyrone squad was so devastated by the effects of Covid-19 that it would have been physically impossible for them to play an All-Ireland semi-final last weekend, according to half forward Niall Sludden.

After two postponements, the Ulster champions will meet Kerry on Saturday, but Sludden says it has been a tough process to get the panel back together.

"Because of the disruption and everything it wouldn't have been possible to play last week," he said.

"With a lot of boys coming back, just gradually being eased in, and with the return to play protocol as well, it has been very hard."

The Dromore man said it would have been a huge blow if Tyrone had been denied the chance to fulfil the fixture.

"You put all that time in, doing the runs and different things over the lockdowns, I’m happy that we’ve got this opportunity to have the whole squad back and for everyone to get a chance.

"It’s an All-Ireland semi-final, obviously massive and a big day, so I’m delighted for the rest of the lads."

As many as half the squad tested positive for the virus. Sludden was one of those who avoided infection, but he felt the full force of the disruption the outbreak caused.

"I have been lucky enough in that I stayed away from it, but I know, from family issues and things, that there have been a lot of cases about, even around the squad.

"It has been disruptive for everyone, but we have to get on with it.

"I was lucky with the way that I go to training, but a lot of other boys had it and had to isolate as well.

"It has been hard, but we’re fortunate that we have got the extra week, and it’s nice to be going in to Saturday, and we’re all looking forward to it.

"It’s been disruptive, but these things are out of our control, and we’re looking forward now to the match on Saturday, and hopefully a big Tyrone crowd down to cheer us on, and we’ll give a good account of ourselves."

Niall Sludden of Tyrone in action against Peader Mogan of Donegal

But he accepts that Tyrone face a huge task against hot favourites Kerry.

"We know Kerry is an unbelievable team and they’ll completely blitz you if you give them time, as we saw ourselves down in Killarney in the League, and in the All-Ireland semi-final a while ago (2018).

"So we know the challenge, it’s a massive challenge and they’re obviously massive favourites.

"After Dublin going out, they’ll probably be seeing themselves as big favourites for the All-Ireland."

The NFL semi-final was one of Tyrone’s darkest days, when they conceded six goals to a rampant Kingdom side in Killarney.

"I’d like to think that since that day in Killarney, and even the All-Ireland semi-final, this team has taken lessons from that," Sludden said.

"It’s up to us now to show that we have learnt from it, and show it in Saturday.

"We’re very aware that it’s a massive challenge, but this is where you want to be, to test yourselves.

"There’s only three teams left now in the competition and we’re one of them, so hopefully we can put those lessons that we’ve learned and give a good show.

"We can’t be conceding the amount of goals that we conceded, or giving away the ball, because you’re going to be punished.

"We need to make sure we bring our 'A' game on Saturday."