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Anxious wait on Chris Wood after 3 positive New Zealand cases and close contacts to be retested

4 months ago
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Chris Wood signed for Newcastle United on Thursday 13 January 2022.

With Callum Wilson ruled out until at least March and the Ashley / Bruce neglect leaving only Dwight Gayle as back-up after a disastrous summer 2021 transfer window, the new Newcastle United owners having no option but to take decisive action, quickly.

With Dwight Gayle unavailable at the time as well and Newcastle having lost to Cambridge the previous weekend and failing to score a single goal despite numerous chances created, playing without an out and out forward couldn’t continue.

So, the NUFC owners paying the £25m release clause for a 30 year old Chris Wood. Bringing in a solid Premier League striker signing who had scored 10+ Premier League goals in each of the last four seasons.

Going straight into the team two days later, Chris Wood helped Newcastle to a 1-1 draw (which should have been a win, on 88 minutes shocking defending from Almiron and Lascelles allowing the equaliser) against Watford, then played significantly better at Leeds as Newcastle picked up an invaluable three points.

Having been at Newcastle for only a week and a half, fair to say a lot of fans were surprised when Chris Wood elected to head off to Dubai for a couple of friendlies with New Zealand, rather than join the rest of the NUFC squad in the team building warm weather trip to Saudi Arabia.

Always difficult in these club v country situations but the fact it was friendlies not competitive matches, making the decision that bit harder to understand.

The first of the two friendlies saw Chris Wood play the full game and score a penalty (pictured above) in a 3-1 defeat to Jordan.

Set to play Uzbekistan on Tuesday (yesterday), news then emerged that this friendly had been cancelled.

New Zealand confirming that they had three positive Covid tests amongst their players but not naming the individuals. These players now having to self-isolate in Dubai for up to ten days.

So if Chris Wood proves to be one one of the three, it appears he would definitely miss Everton at home on Tuesday 8 February and also his participation in the Villa home game on Sunday 13 February to be in doubt.

New Zealand are now also having to retest close contacts, so there is the potential for more positives to emerge.

Here’s hoping that Chris Wood doesn’t appear on any list of positives and can make it back to Tyneside safely and in time to prepare for and then face Everton.

As I say, always difficult in club v country situations.

What I would say, is that at this particular time with still Covid issues a worry (though with seemingly room for optimism moving forward), I think all international friendlies should have been cancelled. Avoiding all unnecessary travel and mixing. Fair enough competitive matches, such as Bruno Guimaraes and Miguel Almiron facing each other in the early hours of this morning, Brazil v Paraguay in a World Cup qualifying group match, but what is the justification for friendlies?

When announcing the cancelling of yesterday’s match, New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell stated:

“It is fair to say the team and staff are gutted to have to cancel the game but in a situation like this, player and staff welfare is the absolute priority.

“We cannot create further exposure events for the team and staff and be responsible for a possible outbreak in the Uzbekistan team as well.

“We will now be working with the team in Dubai to undertake further testing of the squad before they depart, as well as supporting the players who have tested positive while they recover.

“Unfortunately, this is a risk international sport is currently faced with and hugely disappointing for all involved.”

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