Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire among Manchester United players back in training as Carrington re-opens following Covid-19 outbreak that saw two games called off… with Ralf Rangnick also back to prepare team for Newcastle trip
- Manchester United have welcomed some players back to training on Tuesday
- Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes among those to return
- Carrington has re-opened with players making a ‘staggered’ training comeback
- It followed a Covid-19 outbreak that saw two Premier League games postponed
- Ralf Rangnick also returned to prepare for trip to Newcastle next Monday
A number of Manchester United players have returned to training on Tuesday in an optimistic sign their match with Newcastle next week can go ahead.
United have seen their Premier League fixtures against Brentford and Brighton called off after Covid-19 swept through the camp and closed their Carrington training ground.
But it was re-opened on Tuesday with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Mason Greenwood, Luke Shaw, David De Gea and Fred among the players driving in to report for duty.
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire waves as he drives into their Carrington training complex on Tuesday morning
Bruno Fernandes arrives on Tuesday as United’s squad returned to training after a Covid outbreak that has seen their last two Premier League games postponed
Marcus Rashford arrives at Carrington with the players making a ‘staggered’ return
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick was also present in a sign the Covid issues that saw United hit by 19 positive cases are starting to ease.
The Manchester Evening News reported that Scott McTominay, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata were also present but Greenwood, Shaw and Lingard left again after 10 minutes.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek, Diogo Dalot, Jadon Sancho, Phil Jones, Dean Henderson and Tom Heaton were not accounted for.
The club has said the return of the players will be ‘staggered’ in the lead-up to Monday’s Premier League fixture with Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick will be keen to get back to action ahead of a Newcastle trip
United haven’t played since Cristiano Ronaldo scored their winner at Norwich on December 11
Man United fixtures
Premier League unless stated
Monday Newcastle United (A)
December 30 Burnley (H)
January 3 Wolves (H)
January 10 Aston Villa (H)
FA Cup third round
January 15 Aston Villa (A)
January 22 West Ham (H)
Rangnick is set to speak at his pre-match press conference on Thursday after a difficult few days.
First-team training at Carrington closed down last Tuesday before the base re-opened on Wednesday and Thursday.
But it was shut once again on Thursday after the postponement of Saturday’s home game with Brighton. That followed Tuesday’s trip top Brentford being called off.
It has left United with games in hand in the top four race but it isn’t entirely clear when these will be rescheduled for given their Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League commitments in the new year.
After the trip to Tyneside, United host Burnley on December 30 and Wolves on January 3.
Their return to the training ground on Tuesday came as the Premier League pledged to plough on with the festive fixture list despite several clubs being affected as the Omicron Covid variant takes hold in England.
A record 90 positive tests were returned by Premier League players and staff last week.
An emergency meeting of the 20 clubs was called on Monday after six games were postponed over the weekend.
The decision was made to push on with the two round of games spread over five days from December 26. One option had been to postpone game week 20, starting on December 28, but this was rejected.
The Premier League advised clubs that if they had 13 fit players, plus a goalkeeper, they should fulfil their fixtures. Under-23 players with suitable first-team experience can be used.
On Monday, the Premier League announced that 77 per cent of players have had two vaccinations, a rise from 68 per cent in October. 84 per cent of players have had at least one jab.
HOW OMICRON COVID OUTBREAKS HAVE THE PREMIER LEAGUE ON EDGE
Mikel Arteta revealed Arsenal had been forced to close their London Colney training ground after reporting a ‘few cases’ among players and staff following their 2-0 victory over West Ham United. Defender Pablo Mari and midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga were among those to test positive and therefore missed the win at Leeds.
Forced to postpone Premier League clash with Burnley on December 18 just two hours before kick-off after an increased amount of positive Covid-19 test results within their playing squad.
The Bees have 13 cases among players and staff – the club are now calling for a circuit-breaker szhutdown to help clubs recover. Their training ground has been closed and as a result their trip to Southampton on Saturday has been postponed.
Would have been without several players for Tottenham’s visit on Thursday due to Covid before the game was postponed – despite initial calls being rejected – hours before kick-off. Their training ground was closed on Thursday morning to contain the outbreak but given they have an insufficient number of players available, their weekend trip to Everton is also off.
Case numbers are currently unknown but a large outbreak saw their game with Brentford postponed. Calls to have Saturday’s game with Brighton to be postponed were accepted on Thursday, and it has emerged that United would have had only seven available players for that game such is the impact of the outbreak. Their training complex is closed until Tuesday at least, in order to reduce the risk of transmission.
Had a request for Wednesday’s game with Wolves to be postponed rejected by the Premier League following an outbreak at the club. Graham Potter confirmed there were ‘three to four’ positive cases before the game, which they lost 1-0. Saturday’s game with Manchester United has now been postponed.
Manager Dean Smith was facing an anxious wait to discover the full extent of the outbreak at the club. Josh Sargent, Lukas Rupp and Pierre Lees-Melou were absent from the squad that faced Aston Villa in midweek for ‘Covid-related’ reasons, but while Christos Tzolis is the only confirmed player to test positive, more positive test results have been returned. The Canaries had discussions with the Premier League over Saturday’s clash with West Ham and it was agreed to postpone as they have an insufficient number of players available.
Saw their midweek game with Burnley postponed just hours before kick-off. With their training ground closed, their home match with Crystal Palace has now been confirmed as postponed too. Case numbers are currently unknown but they do not sufficient players to fulfil the Palace match.
Spurs were the first Premier League club to be hit by the Omicron variant last week and saw games against Brighton and Rennes postponed after cases reached double digits among players and staff. Those who tested positive for the virus are expected to return in the next couple of days after completing their 10-day self-isolation period. Spurs’ clash with Leicester on Thursday was postponed despite initial demands to have the game called off were rejected, but Sunday’s clash with Liverpool is due to go ahead.
After Brentford, the Blues became the latest club to be hit by a Covid outbreak, after it was confirmed ahead of their game with Everton that four more first-team players had tested positive. Mateo Kovacic was the first Chelsea player to get the virus in the outbreak this week, with Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell following. Neverthless, their game with Everton went ahead and was drawn. Despite recording seven positive Covid cases, the Blues saw a request for their trip to Wolves rejected and Tuchel fumed at the decision to allow the game – which ended 0-0 – to go ahead on Sunday.
It was confirmed just an hour before kick-off against Newcastle on Thursday night that Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Virgil van Dijk were all out having tested positive for Covid. Midfielder Thiago also tested positive for Covid before Sunday’s trip to Spurs and Jurgen Klopp said it is ‘not possible’ for the Reds to continue playing if more players fall ill.
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