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UK Government relax quarantine restrictions – Newcastle United now releasing Miguel Almiron?

2 weeks ago
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Miguel Almiron was blocked by Newcastle United from playing for Paraguay in the September World Cup qualifiers.

Along with most other South American players in the Premier League, the NUFC player staying in the UK after a league-wide agreement not to release players.

This was mainly to do with the vast majority of these countries in South America still being on the red list and the UK government unwilling to make returning players exceptions from quarantine.

Paraguay were amongst the countries to then invoke the FIFA rule banning players from playing for their club team, if prevented from playing international football. In the case of Miguel Almiron, that meant having to miss the game at Man Utd. However, at the last minute the South American countries lifted that ban, on the understanding that the UK government would relax their rules for players when it came to the October World Cup qualifiers.

Things have been very quiet ahead of this upcoming international fortnight, Miguel Almiron named in the latest Paraguay squad but no indication from Newcastle United as to whether he will be travelling. The club having publicised the likes of Hendrick, Lewis, Fraser and Schar set to join up with their countries, nothing about Miggy though.

Now on Friday afternoon, BBC Sport have brought an update, revealing that there has been a partial relaxation on quarantining by the UK Government…

BBC Sport report – 1 October 2021:

‘Premier League players will be allowed to travel to red-list nations to represent their countries in this month’s World Cup qualifiers – but only if they are fully vaccinated.

Players must adhere to a strict code of conduct regarding transport, close contacts, testing and bubbles.

They will have to quarantine in “bespoke facilities” for 10 days upon their arrival back in the UK.

They will be permitted to leave quarantine once a day to train or play.

“We have worked closely with football authorities to achieve an outcome that balances the interests of both club and country while maintaining the highest levels of public health and safety,” said a government spokesperson.

“Our best defence against the virus is vaccination and these new measures will allow fully vaccinated players to fulfil their international duties in the safest, most practical way possible, while allowing them to train and play with their clubs as early as possible upon their return.”

The UK government has relaxed Covid-19 regulations after the problems it caused during the September international break.

On that occasion, the Premier League decided not to release players, prompting a clash with football’s world governing body Fifa, which had demanded individuals be allowed to travel and play.’

I suppose the first question would be, is Miguel Almiron fully vaccinated? The likes of Karl Darlow have urged teammates to get vaccinated but Steve Bruce has admitted that many Newcastle United players haven’t done so, with it reported to be the same story at most other Premier League clubs.

Paraguay have three World Cup qualifiers in October:

Paraguay v Argentina – Thursday 7 October

Chile v Paraguay –  Sunday 10 October

Bolivia v Paraguay – Thursday 14 October

All three countries that are hosting this trio of games are currently still on the UK government’s red list, so there is no doubt that Miguel Almiron will fall into that category of having to do this slightly more relaxed quarantine when returning from this international duty, if he goes.

However, in terms of the Newcastle match at home to Tottenham on Sunday 17 October, regardless of any quarantine, it looks as though Miguel Almiron would surely be struggling to be available to start, if going on international duty. The final game will finish at around 11pm (UK time) on Thursday 14 October and then setting off sometime on Friday (15 October) from Bolivia, by the time he reaches Newcastle it will be surely well into Saturday at the earliest and in no condition to take part in that Spurs game on the Sunday.

Newcastle refusing to let him go? I just can’t see this as a viable option, as not only would Paraguay for sure be invoking that five day rule to stop him playing against Spurs, it would create friction between Newcastle and Paraguay for the future and most importantly, Miguel Almiron would surely be far from happy.

In the absence of the Newcastle player and others missing, Paraguay had a near disastrous September round of matches.

Losing 2-0 to Ecuador and drawing 1-1 with Colombia, saw both of those countries end up above Paraguay in the qualifying table as things now stand. Complete disaster was only avoided when Paraguay managed a narrow 2-1 win over bottom of the table Venezuela.

This is how the South American World Cup qualifying group now looks ahead of the October games.

South America World Cup Qualifying Group 28 September 2021The top four qualify automatically for Qatar whilst the fifth goes into a play-off. As you can see, due to those September results, Paraguay have dropped out of the qualifying spots.

Anything from the Argentina match would be a bonus but as you can see, Paraguay then play eight placed Chile and ninth placed Bolivia in what are surely must win games if they are to stand any chance of automatic qualification.

There is zero chance of Paraguay not doing everything they can to have their best players available and if Newcastle United or anybody else stands in their way, then insisting on as much punishment as possible for clubs that haven’t cooperated.

Whilst Newcastle United look sure to miss Miguel Almiron on the 17 October, it appears Tottenham will be missing at least two, as Giovani lo Celso and Cristian Romero are set to link up with Argentina.

Saturday’s opponents Wolves have confirmed that Raul Jimenez is going to join up with Mexico for their CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers this month. However, it is a bit baffling, as they also state he will be back available for their Premier League game that follows the international break.

At (UK time) 3.05am on Thursday 14 October, El Salvador kick off their third World Cup qualifier of October, then Wolves kick off at 3pm on Saturday 16 October. You would imagine Raul Jimenez would be doing well to be back in the West Midlands by the time the Villa game kicks off, never mind be in a fit state to play.

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