WATFORD striker Andre Gray has apologised after flouting lockdown rules to hold a birthday bash.
The star, engaged to Little Mix singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock, was axed from his side’s 3-1 defeat at home to Southampton yesterday.
To celebrate turning 29 on Friday, the ex-Burnley forward invited his pals round to mark the occasion.
But current coronavirus rules means people can only meet a maximum of six people outside.
And he was axed by Nigel Pearson for the crushing loss to avoid the risk of potentially catching and spreading Covid-19 to team-mates.
Now Gray has issued an apology for his actions on social media, saying: “I wanted to wait to make public apology as my first apology needed to be to my team-mates and staff first for not being able to be involved in yesterdays game and the risk I may have caused!
“I just want to reiterate that it was not a late night party like what is being portrayed and only a gathering of friends which turned into a sort of football tournament on my birthday!
“I understand my responsibilities and will do what it takes to make it right, apologies again (sic).”
It is not known if Leigh-Anne, 28, was there as Gray’s pals played on an artificial pitch in his garden.
Gray proposed to her last month on their four-year anniversary, and they are reported to have been self-isolating together at their five-bedroom Surrey mansion.
He shared clips of his antics to his 171,000 Instagram followers and Watford launched an investigation.
Some guests were seen sitting close together – going against social distancing guidelines – in the now-deleted videos.
Gray’s gathering came just hours after the Watford players were tested for coronavirus ahead of their match against Southampton today.
His team-mates Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah are believed to have been among those in attendance and have been dropped from the squad to face the Saints.
The Hornets tweeted yesterday morning: “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.”
Watford’s defeat to Saints leaves them one point above the drop zone, with both Bournemouth and West Ham able to go above them should they win their game in hand.