Derby first-team squad self-isolating and to miss FA Cup tie

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(Reuters) - Derby County's first-team squad and interim manager Wayne Rooney are self-isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak and will not play a part in Saturday's FA Cup third-round match at sixth-tier Chorley, the Championship club said on Wednesday.

Several Derby players and staff tested positive for the virus on Monday, leading to the closure of the second-tier club's Moor Farm training ground.

"As the first-team coaching staff, backroom team and players are currently self-isolating, staff and players at Saturday's match will be predominantly made up from the club's Under-23 and Under-18 set-ups," the club said in a statement.

"The side will be led on the day by senior professional development phase coach Pat Lyons and professional development phase coach Gary Bowyer."

Derby said the players and staff making the trip to Chorley would be tested again for COVID-19 on Thursday.

League One club Shrewsbury Town also reported several positive tests among their squad.

The third tier team are scheduled to travel to Premier League Southampton for an FA Cup tie on Saturday.

COVID-19 outbreaks have led to four Premier League matches being postponed and more than 50 games in the lower divisions of the English Football League (EFL) have been called off this season.

Premier League teams are now being tested twice a week even as a new national COVID-19 lockdown was announced on Monday due to surging infections in the country caused by a more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus.

The EFL announced later on Wednesday that twice-weekly COVID-19 testing would be introduced for all 72 clubs in the second, third and fourth divisions next week, with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) funding the tests.

"Football has provided temporary relief for many fans during the lockdown," PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said.

"We believe that this comprehensive and expansive approach to testing will help support clubs and be an important factor in maintaining fixtures and ensuring that football can continue during this challenging period."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)