Man City concerned about escalating coronavirus cases as Guardiola tests positive

By Sports Desk January 06, 2022

Manchester City assistant Rodolfo Borrell is concerned about the escalating number of coronavirus cases within the club, but is hopeful Friday's FA Cup third-round tie with Swindon Town will go ahead as planned.

The Premier League leaders confirmed on Thursday that manager Pep Guardiola and assistant Juanma Lillo are among those to have tested positive for COVID-19.

Twenty-one members of City's first-team bubble – seven players and 14 backroom staff – are isolating and will miss the trip to fourth-tier Swindon.

That match is still scheduled to go ahead as planned, though that may yet change depending on how the coronavirus situation develops ahead of the game.

Following the fixture with Swindon, City are scheduled to face second-placed Chelsea in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium on January 15.

Borrell will take charge of City on Friday and says it is a case of taking it one game at a time.

"At the moment we have seven players unavailable and up to 14 staff, so it's quite a big outbreak," he said at a pre-match news conference on Thursday.

"Pep is fine. He has the virus but he hasn't got a lot of symptoms. We are permanently in touch. We communicate by calls and technology.

"We will play with the ones we have available. We don't have much more, but our aim is to keep playing as much as we can trying to respect all competitions.

"At this moment we can fill the team. I don't know what will happen in the following days but right now it's an easy line-up to decide.

"We will play with what we've got. We have some first-team players and some others that will come from our second team."

Asked if he is confident the Swindon game will definitely go ahead, Borrell replied: "We have prepared mentally for the game. We have to prepare for the game to happen. 

"This is what we have done until now and we'll keep going this way. If then tomorrow for whatever reason it's not possible because of more news, this is out of our reach to know.

"But right now, yes, we are prepared to play the game and we are mentally ready for it."

Borrell did not disclose which players have tested positive for coronavirus, but the outbreak is serious enough for City to have to turn to their youth squad.

City have won 13 of their last 14 matches in all competitions ahead of their first meeting with Swindon in any competition since a 2-0 FA Cup third-round win in January 2002. 

The Citizens have come out on top in 10 of their last 11 meetings with Swindon, with these matches taking place between 1988 and that most recent game 20 years ago.

Though City have progressed from their last seven FA Cup ties against sides from the fourth tier or lower, last losing against Blackpool in January 1984, Borrell is taking nothing for granted this weekend.

"You know better than me that lesser teams beat big opponents [in this competition]," he added.

"It creates a great atmosphere, everyone wants to make their village, town or city proud. There is a difference in terms of quality of players, this is obvious, but in these games everything gets very close.

"The FA Cup is very special. This is one of the titles we are most proud of achieving in the last six years. It's important to do well and get into the next stage. It will be very close, like any other tie in this competition."

Related items

  • Emiliano Martinez banned for first leg of Villa’s semi-final against Olympiacos Emiliano Martinez banned for first leg of Villa’s semi-final against Olympiacos

    Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will miss the Europa Conference League semi-final first leg against Olympiacos.

    The Argentina international saved two penalties in the 4-3 quarter-final shootout victory over Lille, but earned a yellow card for his trademark gamesmanship and baiting the home crowd.

    That was his second of the game, but he was not sent off as cards are not carried over into the shootout.

    However, after also picking up a booking in the first leg against Lille, he will now miss the semi-final first leg with the Greek side on May 2 for three yellows on the totting-up process.

    The World Cup winner, who produced heroics against France in the 2022 final in Qatar, will be a big miss, with Unai Emery calling him the best goalkeeper in the world.

    “To say something about this is when he’s being successful individually and collectively with his club here at Aston Villa and his national team,” boss Unai Emery said.

    “He’s being successful with Argentina, he’s being successful and progressively getting better here with Aston Villa.

    “And individually he’s being successful because he’s saving a lot of matches as a goalkeeper.

    “Of course, he’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world – the first, the second, the third.

    “For me, the best.”

    Villa will have a quick turnaround after playing 120 minutes in northern France on Thursday, with Bournemouth’s visit to Villa Park on Sunday.

    Emery will assess his side after Saturday’s training session to see how they recover, with Nicolo Zaniolo going off injured in the first half against Lille.

    Alex Moreno, Emiliano Buendia, Jacob Ramsey, Tyrone Mings and Boubacar Kamara are definitely out.

    “Alex Moreno, Mings, Buendia, Ramsey are still unavailable,” Emery added. “I think no more. After the match we played yesterday, we will have to wait and then decide.”

  • JFF to introduce new Under-17 tournament for Jamaica Premier League clubs JFF to introduce new Under-17 tournament for Jamaica Premier League clubs

    The Jamaica Football Federation is continuing its commitment to developing youth football in the country with the formation of a new Under-17 tournament to be contested by Jamaica Premier League clubs, JFF president Michael Ricketts announced Thursday.

    The competition, tentatively set to commence on May 5, will not be mandatory for clubs to participate in as this is its inaugural year.

    “We would want to encourage as many of the Premier League clubs to participate in this Under-17 competition. As it is now, most of the clubs will be participating,” Ricketts said.

    “We thought that it was very important that we capture those that are probably on the verge of getting out of high school and have them in a formal setting so that they can make a transition from U-17s to U20s and, ultimately, the senior set up,” he added.

    This is also a timely move because, as of 2025, the FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be held annually instead of every four years as was customary.

    “We want to insert some energy and some vibe to ensure that as best as possible, we must be competitive and very relevant at age 17 and under so that we can actively participate and add some level of competitiveness at the World Cup which, as of next year, will be held every year,” Ricketts said.

    Jamaica got to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand in 1999 and Mexico in 2011.

     

  • Erling Haaland a doubt for FA Cup semi-final Erling Haaland a doubt for FA Cup semi-final

    Erling Haaland is a doubt for Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Saturday.

    The Norwegian striker was surprisingly substituted prior to extra time of the Champions League quarter-final loss to Real Madrid on Wednesday.

    Manager Pep Guardiola revealed after the game the 23-year-old asked to be withdrawn but did not give a reason why.

    Speaking on Friday, Guardiola confirmed the forward had suffered an injury but still gave little indication as to how serious.

    Guardiola said at a press conference: “We will see. It was a tough game, a lot of action, high intensity for both sides.

    “Erling felt something, a muscular issue. That’s why he told me he could not continue.

    “The (doctor) said he had a little bit of niggles, a little problem, we will see how his evolution is in the next hours.”

    In a more positive update, Guardiola confirmed playmaker Kevin De Bruyne “feels well” having been taken off during extra time against Real for nothing more serious than exhaustion.

    Guardiola feels, given the schedule, it is understandable that players would be tired at this stage of the season.

    He said: “It’s normal with the amount of games we are playing this season and the previous seasons and not much recovery, and extra time and high intensity.

    “We put a lot of pressure in our game and that’s why the fatigue is there. They are human beings. They are not a machine. We are used to it.”

    The agonising penalty shoot-out defeat by Real ended City’s hopes of winning the treble for a second season in succession.

    Yet they remain on course to repeat the domestic double and Guardiola is determined to bounce back from the midweek heartache.

    He said: “We don’t have another option. I don’t want us to feel sorry for ourselves.

    “In football, you lose games. We performed at our best and we were not able to win. You have to accept it.

    “We did everything. We know it, they know it, all the world know it, but it was not enough. When it’s not enough, it’s bad night.

    “So congratulations (to Real) and, tomorrow, FA Cup.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.