Newcastle’s entire squad in Covid-19 self-isolation after significant outbreak

Newcastle’s entire squad in Covid-19 self-isolation after significant outbreak

Newcastle’s Premier League game at Aston Villa on Friday is in danger of postponement after Steve Bruce’s entire first-team squad were asked to self-isolate on Monday amid a growing Covid-19 outbreak at the north-east club.

The training ground will not reopen until Wednesday at the earliest after a specially ordered set of coronavirus tests on Sunday revealed a significant number of players and staff had recorded positive results.

Bruce cancelled a planned training session on Sunday morning and ordered a deep clean of Newcastle’s weekday base when it became clear four players and one member of his backroom team had tested positive. As a precaution, everyone in the first-team “bubble” was retested but the amount of positive results caused sufficient alarm to result in a blanket self-isolation order.

Should, as may well happen, Newcastle ask for the Villa game to be postponed it would be the first Premier League fixture delayed on such grounds since the initial resumption of top-tier games in June.

Yet although Bruce, who was without Isaac Hayden, Emil Krafth, Jamal Lascelles, Andy Carroll and Allan Saint-Maximin when Newcastle won 2-0 at Crystal Palace on Friday, is anxious he will not have time to prepare properly for Friday’s trip to Villa, the Premier League are likely to be resistant to the idea of delaying the game.

The general rule – still to be properly tested by a club in the grip of an outbreak – is that matches should proceed providing teams have a starting XI plus three substitutes but Bruce is understood to be concerned that players who have not trained properly could be at additional risk of injury.

With the training ground shut, all physiotherapy treatments have been suspended. Bruce suspects the outbreak originated with players returning from playing abroad during the recent international break but cannot be sure. Steve Agnew, his assistant, missed the recent Premier League home defeat with Chelsea for unexplained reasons, while Hayden’s absence at Palace was attributed to illness. Of the other absentees at Selhurst Park all bar Krafth, a Sweden defender, were reported to be injured.

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 the support staff around them.