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Tuesday – Another Newcastle player positive virus test as outbreak source identified – Report

5 months ago
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Steve Bruce stated on Friday that there were three Newcastle United players and one member of staff who had tested positive for the virus.

Then Sunday brought the dispiriting news that two further Newcastle United players had been found to be positive with the virus after testing.

Now on Tuesday morning, an exclusive from The Times is reporting that after the latest round of tests on Sunday, one of those has produced another positive Newcastle player when the results were received back earlier today.

Different media are reporting different totals but a minimum of five Newcastle players (six if we take as correct Steve Bruce’s update on Friday night) and at least one member of club staff. Although earlier in November, Fabian Schar told Swiss media that a physio at Newcastle had tested positive as well for the virus.

Training was cancelled on Sunday and Monday with the training ground to be given a deep clean, with the Newcastle players having been told not to report for training until further notice.

Whether training takes place on Tuesday remains to be seen.

Whatever is, or isn’t happening, this is not ideal for preparation to play away at Aston Villa on Friday night.

That match at Villa Park is set to kick off at 8pm on 4 December 2020 and some people have raised the possibility of the Aston Villa v Newcastle game potentially getting called off.

However, before the 2020/21 Premier League started, a number of newspapers were given leaked information that the Premier League had sent out to the 20 clubs, regarding guidance when it came to dealing with the virus and what it would take for calling off matches.

Not surprisingly, the Premier League are 100% intent on allowing as little interruption to the season as possible, the very worst case scenario would be if they found themselves unable to finish the season and face massive penalties from broadcasters and others.

One of those to get hold of the leaked Premier League virus guidance to clubs ahead of the season, was The Mail, who in their report on 6 September 2020 said:

Premier League clubs will be forced to play even if their squad suffers a major virus outbreak.

Postponement requests will be rejected unless fewer than 14 players available.

Any youngsters who have played a minute or more of senior football should be promoted and will be counted as one of the 14 available players.

The Mail stated that they had been given access to the guidance sent to all 20 Premier League clubs and that if any club refused to fulfil a fixture, the Premier League would convene an independent disciplinary panel to hear the case with the usual sanctions at their disposal, including possible points deductions, as well as of course, awarding the three points to the opposition, unless the criteria stated above (less than 14 players available) meant a club would be accepted to have had no choice but to ask for a match to be called off.

In the summer, when completing the 2019/20 Champions League and Europa League competitions, UEFA had ruled that any club that could not fill a 13 man squad would forfeit the match and lose 3-0. With no postponements allowed whatsoever.

So on the basis outlined above, Newcastle United have some way to go before they could potentially ask for a postponement of Aston Villa v Newcastle on Friday. Not able to train as normal won’t be enough to come anywhere close to being able to get the match postponed. Only possibly if all the goalkeepers were unavailable could a case possibly be made with the current numbers of players ruled out, although even that is probably covered by the fact that Premier League clubs are already able to do an emergency loan for a goalkeeper, if for whatever reasons their first team keepers are all injured etc.

As for the source of this outbreak of positive cases in the past week or so, The Times say that their information is that it has been caused by a player returning from international duty.

Those away on international duty in November were Ciaran Clark, Jamal Lewis, Miguel Almiron, Emil Krafth, Jeff Hendrick and Fabian Schar.

By a process of quick elimination, with five of those players on duty at Crystal Palace, it appears to then point at Emil Krafth who was away with Sweden last month. He was also one of those missing from training photos released by the club last Wednesday.

Not surprisingly, the media are keen to run headlines claiming the match at Aston Villa on Friday could be postponed.

However, as it stands there appears to be little chance of that happening. As it stands, a maximum of five or six players are affected and the fact Newcastle United are choosing to not have the players report to their training ground early this week will be seen as their (NUFC’s) problem. The last thing the Premier League will want is a precedent to be set by a match been postponed and with the size of squads now, there would need to be a lot more cases surely at Newcastle United.

Aston Villa already have an outstanding game against Man City to fit in, plus Newcastle’s ongoing involvement in the League Cup also reduces the opportunity to fit in any extra matches.

A number of players including Krafth and Isaac Hayden were missing from training last Wednesday, so you also have the possibility of the players originally identified as positive, now almost certainly having completed their 10 days of self isolation, so potentially available to play at Villa, maybe reducing it back to a total of only two or three set to be unavailable.

Also, whilst it is disappointing that The Times have reported another additional positive case, you could maybe even see that as a positive in terms of matches not having to be called off, as in, only the one new case from Sunday’s testing and not a far larger number.

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