Magpies in sick bay

Magpies in sick bay

LONDON • Newcastle United’s Premier League fixture at Aston Villa on Friday is under increasing threat of being postponed as the club attempt to deal with a coronavirus outbreak.

According to The Guardian, Steve Bruce’s entire first-team squad were asked to self-isolate on Monday, while their training ground was closed and will not reopen till today at the earliest.

Bruce had said on the eve of last Friday’s 2-0 league win at Crystal Palace that three unnamed individuals at the club were self-isolating after testing positive.

Two more individuals have since tested positive after the latest round of testing on Sunday, taking the total number of cases within the club to five – reportedly four players and one member of Bruce’s staff.

The Newcastle boss had cancelled a planned training session on Sunday morning and ordered a deep clean of Newcastle’s training ground.

Another round of testing is due to take place today, according to Sky Sports. After the Palace win, Bruce said he was “a little bit anxious” about the situation and concerned for the welfare of not only his players but also the support staff around them.

“It’s a concern and difficult to manage. We’re trying our utmost to make sure we try and stay as safe as we can,” he told Sky Sports after the Palace match.

“Of course my concern isn’t just the welfare of the players, which is vitally important, but my members of staff too.

“We’ll do our best but it’s difficult at the moment.”

Midfielder Isaac Hayden missed that match with illness, while captain Jamaal Lascelles, winger Allan Saint-Maximin, striker Andy Carroll and defender Emil Krafth were reported injured.

With the training ground shut, all physiotherapy treatment has also been suspended.

Should the Villa game be postponed upon Newcastle’s request, it would be the first Premier League fixture to be delayed due to the coronavirus this season.

TOUGH TIMES

Of course my concern isn’t just the welfare of the players… but my members of staff too. We’ll do our best but it’s difficult at the moment.

STEVE BRUCE, Newcastle manager.

The league, however, is resistant to the idea of postponement.

The authorities have said previously that for a game to be postponed, it would require 14 players to be affected.

But, if the team are able to field 11 players and three substitutes the game should go ahead.

The fixture schedule is already hectic with teams experiencing a higher-than-usual rate of injuries.

Bruce is also understood to be concerned that players who have not trained properly before the match could be at additional risk of injury.

According to The Telegraph, the possibility of the players turning up solely for training today without entering the buildings is being considered.

The English top flight as a whole recorded 10 positive coronavirus tests over the last week, up by two cases from the previous week.

The city of Newcastle itself will enter the Tier 3 band today when the lockdown ends – the highest allocated by the British government.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE