McLaughlin started the game while Maris came on as a sub, but the afternoon ended in heartbreak for Clough's promotion-chasers as Stags had the ball over the line but it was missed by the officials who then allowed Carlisle an offside winner to double the visitors’ frustration.
“We hadn't released what they had,” said Clough. “But I just wanted supporters to know that this is what the lads are doing.
“We are all frustrated as we should be in the top seven and closing in on the top three – we know that. But at this moment in time players can't do any more for us.
“We had Stephen McLaughlin starting yesterday and he had Covid. He hasn't trained.
“Him and George Maris have got Covid at the moment.
“They travelled up to Carlisle on their own in the car, isolated in a room and we took food up to them. They didn't get changed in the changing room. They stayed away from everybody. We did all the things we could do.
“Stephen McLaughlin then played for 70 minutes with Covid.
“Both of them felt breathing problems.
“George Maris came on for the last 10/15 minutes and was the same.
“The players can't do any more and we get frustrated when they miss a chance or a ball across the face of goal isn't good enough or whatever.
“But we are talking about the base foundation here of absolute 100 per cent effort that your team is giving – and they are giving absolutely everything.”
He added: “Anybody who's had Covid will tell you it's quite debilitating - and that's with not even doing anything.
“People are up and down with it.
“I wish we didn't have this rule about the substitute not coming off at the halfway line as McLaughlin has to walk halfway round the pitch and we didn't think he was going to make it at one point he looked that tired! He was absolutely dead on his feet.
“The players were absolutely inconsolable afterwards. Ultimately the game came down to two mistakes by the officials. That dictated the result.”