Tottenham could ask Premier League to postpone Brighton match after Covid outbreak

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Tottenham could ask Premier League to postpone Brighton match after Covid outbreak - PA
Tottenham could ask Premier League to postpone Brighton match after Covid outbreak - PA

Tottenham Hotspur are waiting to find out the full severity of a coronavirus outbreak before deciding whether to ask for their Premier League trip to Brighton to be postponed.

Head coach Antonio Conte’s preparations for Thursday night’s Europa Conference League tie against Rennes have already been thrown into chaos after seven players and four members of staff tested positive for Covid and are isolating before receiving results of follow-up PCR tests taken on Tuesday.

Spurs were expecting to find out the results of the PCR tests on Wednesday, when the full extent of the outbreak will become clear.

While the identities of the players have not been confirmed, it is believed that the outbreak involves first-team squad members and coaching staff. Those who have recorded positive lateral flow tests are all thought to have been double vaccinated.

Spurs team are due to entertain Rennes in the Europa Conference League on Thursday night before travelling to Brighton on Sunday and then Leicester City next Thursday.

Tottenham have previously seen players post false positive lateral flow tests and been cleared after recording negative follow-up PCR tests, so any decision on requesting a postponement of the Brighton game will wait until all the results have been gathered.

The number of positive cases at Spurs would seemingly have to grow even further to threaten the Europa Conference League clash with Rennes, as Uefa rules stipulate that ties are only placed into jeopardy “if less than 13 players registered on the A list or no registered goalkeeper are available.”

Under those rules, it is understood Spurs would currently be able to fulfil the Rennes fixture, although whether or not that is the case after PCR testing remains to be seen.

Conte is preparing to field a weakened team on Thursday night, with Spurs needing to beat Rennes.

Tottenham’s training ground remained open on Tuesday morning, with Conte taking training with the players that he still had available in an effort to prepare for the Rennes game as best he could.

But the club moved to try to contain the outbreak by moving Wednesday’s press conference ahead of the Rennes game on to Zoom, rather than allowing journalists to enter the premises.

Premier League games involving Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Manchester City and Fulham had to be postponed because of Covid outbreaks last season, but Arsenal played the first game of this campaign, despite being without four players, including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, for the defeat by Brighton.

Tottenham are the first English club to suffer the threat of a serious outbreak since Arsenal on the first day of the season and their positive cases will cause concern that the fixture list could become affected by coronavirus postponements – as it was around this time last year. The Premier League this week confirmed 12 positives from 3,154 players and club staff in the latest round of testing, between Monday last week and Sunday.

The Premier League have previously been relatively sympathetic to requests to postpone games. Other than considering the number of positive cases at a club when approached over a postponement, other factors are also taken into consideration such as how many players from specific positions have been affected and whether or not training has been severely impacted, increasing the risk of serious injuries.

Postponing the Brighton trip would be far from ideal for Tottenham, who have already played a game fewer than their rivals having seen the game against Burnley postponed because of snow.

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