Sports

Hodgson upset by Milivojevic Covid rules breach but defends selection

“I know about it and obviously we condemn it,” Hodgson told Sky Sports. “We’re very upset about it, it doesn’t do the image of the club, it doesn’t do Luka’s image any good, but we’ll take responsibility for that as I expect Luka to take responsibility for it.

“He hasn’t broken Premier League protocols per se because he’s negative and I believe the other player involved was negative as well. But that doesn’t matter, the fact is that there are government guidelines.

“These guidelines are there for the whole world to follow and when high-profile people like football players break those rules and guidelines, it is a matter of concern and we will deal with it internally.”

Asked if he considered not playing Milivojevic against Sheffield United for fear of putting his team-mates and opponents at risk, Hodgson replied: “We know he didn’t put the other team at risk because he’s been cleared by the Premier League protocols to play. He’s negative.

“We also know that the player that was with him has tested negative, so there was no question of fearing we were putting the other team at risk. 

“It’s not a question of risks here on this football pitch, the risks of course come when people break government guidelines with regard to other people in the population. But most importantly of all, it’s a question of if other people are following the guidelines and not breaking the rules, we don’t expect footballers to.”

Hodgson also confirmed that Milivojevic has apologised for the breach and dismissed suggestions that the Serbian could be stripped of the Palace captaincy.

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Fulham say they are looking into the incident also involving striker Aleksandar Mitrovic

/ Getty Images )

“I must say I’d be rather surprised if there was an outcry from Crystal Palace fans knowing they are more concerned with us winning football matches… to suggest it should impact upon him playing and losing the captaincy is taking it slightly too far,” he said.

A Fulham statement on the incident involving Mitrovic read: “Following reports regarding Aleksandar Mitrovic breaking Tier 4 restrictions and Fulham Covid protocols, the club is looking into the matter fully as it takes a breach of the rules extremely seriously.

“The player is aware of the club’s disappointment and of the standards that are expected of him. The matter will now be dealt with internally.”

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