Newcastle’s clash with Aston Villa is at risk of being postponed – as coronavirus ravages Steve Bruce’s squad.
The club are set to ask the Premier League to cancel the game on public health grounds with the squad hit by more than five positive tests, and uncertain how many more could develop.
Newcastle officials have yet to officially submit their reasoning to the Premier League board, but have been in talks.
As well as being down on playing numbers, it would not be a good look during a pandemic to have a worried squad travelling together, staying in hotels and playing a game… while the rest of the country have just gone into a strict new tier system of restrictions.
Bruce reported three positive cases last Thursday, which rose to five on Monday and club sources say it is now even “more severe.”
He also wants to protect his staff, and the families of players.
Officials refuse to name players with the virus but Emile Krafth, Jamaal Lascelles, Isaac Hayden, Andy Carroll and Allan Saint-Maximin (calf) missed the win at Aston Villa.
Bruce, 59, has admitted to being “anxious” about the disease and conceded it was a “difficult time at the moment.”
Newcastle’s training ground has been closed since Sunday and players who have tested positive, and close contracts, are isolating at home.
Premier League protocols state that if a team has fewer than 15 players available because of COVID a game can be cancelled.
However decisions are made on a case-to-case basis.
Bruce claimed that one rival top flight club had 12 positives “within their group” last week.
The Premier League reported 10 new cases up to Sunday across the league.
Commenting on the virus Bruce has said: “The negatives are managing this horrible virus which sneaks upon us all. We have to manage the situation.
“Up to the last few months the Premier League has been starved of it. But unfortunately the numbers are rising around the country and there is a big jump.
“The ones who have been on international duty have been away and come back. But you can be a non-international as well and get it.
“I have heard of a Premier League team who have had 12 last week, in the group, so we have to manage the group.”
“The protocols from the last eight months have been terrific. Whether it is coincidental with international being away or just the virus peak… I feel like a scientist at the minute.
“My job is also to make sure the staff stay safe too. It has hit my staff too.”
Newcastle will have had little or no time to train as a squad before Friday night’s game scheduled to be shown on Amazon.
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