Manchester City fear their season could be derailed today with further positive cases of Covid-19 among their players and staff.
City carried out tests on all of their squad, coaching staff and first-team support staff at their training ground on Monday, with the results due back today.
If, as expected, further positive cases are confirmed, City’s Premier League game at Chelsea on Sunday will be called off, leading to more fixture pile-up for the Blues.
As well as yesterday’s round of testing, City’s players and staff will be tested twice more before Sunday, as the club tries to halt the alarming spread of the virus.
Under current guidelines, Premier League clubs normally test players every 72 hours, but City are carrying them out every 48 hours following the outbreak within their squad.
A deep-clean of City’s Etihad Campus training ground, shut down in the wake of the spate of positive tests, will be completed today, but it remains closed indefinitely.
All those players and staff tested yesterday did not leave their vehicles, undergoing the Premier League Covid-19 testing procedure before driving back home.
After Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus tested positive, further confirmed cases in City’s first-team bubble caused the postponement of Monday’s Premier League encounter at Everton, just four hours before kick-off.
With City convinced their bubble was compromised during their trip to London for their Carabao Cup win at Arsenal on December 22, there is a feeling that more positive tests are inevitable among their players and staff.
If that is the case, it would mean City having to rearrange at least three Premier League fixtures, with next Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final at local rivals Manchester United now also in serious doubt.
With little room in the already congested fixture schedule, City face a nightmare rearranging the games they have been forced to postpone.
Their season opener at home to Aston Villa was postponed because of their involvement in the latter stages of the Champions League last season.
Now they must rearrange the Everton game and, almost certainly, this weekend’s trip to Stamford Bridge if, as seems likely, it too is called off.
The postponement of next week’s EFL Cup tie at United would place Pep Guardiola and his squad under even more strain to fit all the games in before the end of the season, given they remain involved in four competitions.
City disputed suggestions of a further five positive tests in the wake of those provided by Walker and Jesus, but refused to confirm the actual number.
And while the club took the step of naming Walker and Jesus as the players who tested positive in the round of tests carried out on December 23, as well as two members of staff, they are refusing to reveal the identities of those whose positive tests caused the Everton game to be called off.
The Premier League confirmed 18 new positive Covid tests, from 1,479 carried out on players and club staff between December 21 and 27.