Dave Thomas was capped eight times for England and is warning other blind people to locate somebody who looks after their dog if they capture coronavirus.

A former England footballer who lost his sight is advocating guide dog owners to take actions as – coronavirus spreads.

Dave Thomas, who is based on his own guide dog Hannah, has told all blind people should find somebody who could possibly care for their dog if they become sick.

“It’s indeed important,” said Dave, 69. “The charity Guide Dogs made me to make sure my wife Brenda have a backup person to care for Hannah so we rang somebody from the village.

“I would urge all people with a guide dog to be certain they have this setup.

“It’s important with a guide dog to maintain their regular as much as possible and get out when you can so they do not lose their skills.”

Dave, who had been capped eight times for England and played for QPR, Everton, Burnley and Wolves, was registered blind in 2008.

Eight decades later, he was paired up with Labrador Hannah, who he says has”given me my life back”.

“I am so blessed to have Hannah and she’s helping me,” Dave explained.

“She is an excellent stress-buster and although we are no longer catching the bus to town together, we’re going out on walks two or three times weekly.

“I feel sorry for blind people stuck indoors with no garden.

“It is difficult enough for handicapped people in the best of times but if you’re completely blind in the current conditions, it must be frightening.”

Dave’s wife Brenda said the couple was having”plenty of fun keeping Hannah stimulated during lockdown”.

“They are extremely smart animals and must never be underestimated,” she said.

“We have a range of unique toys named things like Donald the donkey and Daisy the cow, and Hannah is learning how to distinguish between them so she must pick the right toy to recover.”

Tim Stafford, Canine Assisted Services Director, said: “We expect to share our tips will help during this challenging time.”