Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola fears new Premier League wave of Covid-19 after March internationals
Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, fears that the March international break will cause a spike of Covid-19 cases in the Premier League and potentially lead to further fixture congestion.
City travel to Everton on Wednesday night to fulfill a fixture which was initially scheduled for 28 December, only to be postponed due to a virus outbreak within their first team bubble.
Outbreaks at other top-flight clubs – including Newcastle, Aston Villa and Fulham – sparked concerns that the Premier League season may need to be brought to a temporary halt.
Read more: Pep Guardiola expresses sympathy for Liverpool rival Jurgen Klopp
The number of new positive cases subsequently fell, thanks to an “exceptional job” by the Premier League according to Guardiola, but the City manager is concerned that next month’s international break could undo all that hard work.
“Hopefully not, but the only way to be protected from this virus is to stay at home and don’t move, social distance and not make contact, not travel,” Guardiola said.
“Now the people are going to travel and the players are going to their national teams. It is difficult enough to control it and I think something is going to rise unfortunately.
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“I would like to guess it is not going to happen but experience says it has happened in two or three waves already in the world so if you move, you take a risk to be contaminated again.
“I think the Premier League should be concerned about this, and all the leagues should be concerned,” he added.
“I know the national federations need to play for qualification and to prepare for the Euros, this is normal, but the reason why there are not a lot of cases in the Premier League now is that people don’t move – they go home-training centre-home or home-game-home, no more than this.
“We are in the bubble and every two days we are tested. The moment you take planes and move places, I don’t know, everything can happen.”
New Fifa rules allow clubs to stop their players reporting for international duty when they may be forced to quarantine on their return but Guardiola suggested he is reluctant to go that far.
“The players are going to the national team,” he said. “They know the situation. We’ll tell them to be careful and I am pretty sure the national teams have protocols, but you need nothing to be contaminated.
“The moment you take planes and go other places everything can happen, we’ve not had a letter or advice [from the national federations] about it.”
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