Club fears over player fitness after wave of positive tests
Premier League clubs were last night facing major concerns over how their players will cope with the demands of the season’s start, after many were ruled out of crucial preseason training because they either tested positive for coronavirus or have been placed in isolation beBy cause of contact protocols. Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was left out of France’s squad by Didier Deschamps for their Nations League games next month, with the coach disclosing that the 27-year-old had tested positive on Wednesday and was no longer available.
Pogba’s United team-mate, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, will go into a mandatory 14-day isolation this week when he returns from holiday in Dubai – a destination players were advised to avoid for that reason.
At Chelsea, Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Emerson, Michy Batshuayi, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic are all in isolation.
Six of them – not identified – have tested positive and a further two are obliged to isolate. Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is also understood to have tested positive for the virus, and Newcastle United striker Joelinton is in isolation. There was also a positive test among the first-team squad at Southampton last week.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta did not disclose which of his players
were isolating although it was notable that the club did not release training pictures.
Spurs captain Harry Kane missed the start of his club’s pre-season because he was obliged to quarantine on returning from a holiday in the
Bahamas. For Gareth Southgate, it now looks inevitable that he will lose Mount and Abraham from his England squad for the Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark at the start of next month.
The testing programme that was fundamental to the success of Project Restart, when the clubs returned to action in June to complete last season, has already begun, with players first reporting to training grounds alone for an initial test.
Only when they have tested negative are they able to join the biosecure bubble around the squad and commence full-contact training.
The Premier League is not yet prepared to release data for its testing, which has begun club by club. The twice-weekly disclosure of results will eventually resume.
Although the clubs will probably have most of their players returned from quarantine or isolation by the start of the season, it will give them precious little time to condition those who have missed out for the intensive programme to follow as the season gets going.