Thursday, January 20, 2022

Man City concerned about escalating coronavirus cases as Guardiola tests positive

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Jan 2022

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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.”

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