Watford confirmed prior to their Premier League game against Southampton that Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina had been omitted from the squad for health reasons, amid speculation that the trio broke social distancing measures to attend a party.
Lockdown rules and regulations have slowly started to be lifted by the UK government after weeks of total shutdown, but the rules stipulate that large gatherings with those outside of your own household are still not allowed.
? TEAM NEWS ?— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) June 28, 2020
Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina have all been omitted from the squad by Nigel Pearson to ensure the health & safety of all players, staff and officials at today’s game.#WATSOU pic.twitter.com/OfDqbM9yeN
But a video posted on Gray's Instagram page - apparently celebrating his 29th birthday - showed fellow teammates Chalobah and Quina participating in a kick around in his back garden, along with many other guests.
The videos have since been removed from all of Gray's social media channels, but the club appear to have got wind of the trio's activities - with a tweet confirming Watford's Premier League team news against Southampton detailing why they were not taking part.
The short message said that all three had been omitted from Nigel Pearson's squad to protect the 'health and safety of all players, staff and officials at today’s game'. Although not a direct reference to what the players have supposedly been up to, the tone appears to suggest that Watford are well aware - and are not amused - by Gray, Chalobah and Quina's actions.
A number of Watford's players have previously tested positive for coronavirus, while Troy Deeney also vowed to stay away from training over fears of his family's safety - he has since returned and featured in matches since the restart.
Parties such as these are in a clear breach of lockdown regulations, and ill-advised at best, but the timing of the birthday bash makes for even more negligent reading. The Hornets are 'locked' in a relegation battle this season, sitting just one point above the bottom three ahead of a crucial run of fixtures.
Not only forcing three, potentially key players to be removed from the squad, their actions also put the rest of the club's staff and players at risk - hence why the club has acted accordingly.