Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he’s struggling to understand the consistency of coronavirus rules being applied in English football and whether certain advice can be adhered to.
Four Premier League games have so far been called off because of Covid-19 outbreaks, including within City’s own squad, which forced their fixture against Everton to be postponed last month.
A further match could yet fall, as Aston Villa’s first-team are quarantining following a rise in cases at the club, with Dean Smith’s side due to face Tottenham on Wednesday night.
But Guardiola’s puzzled as to why Villa and Derby - who are also dealing with a coronavirus outbreak - were able to field U23 and U18 players in their FA Cup matches during the third round, yet Southampton’s tie with virus-hit Shrewsbury was called off.
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City are dealing with another Covid-related incident, with Sergio Aguero forced to isolate after a close contact tested positive, despite the Argentina striker returning a negative result.
“There are teams with four or five cases and played 10 players from the under-23s in the FA Cup”, said Guardiola after his side’s 3-0 win over Championship side Birmingham.
“We are four or five, the same situation, and we are here.
One guy is isolated and the group has to continue. So, I don’t know. We follow what the people say at the club, the Premier League. We follow the rules. That is what it is.
England’s top flight has sent clubs revised, strict guidelines in an effort to contain the rate of infection, but Guardiola’s questioned whether the advice for players to avoid close contact, including hugging, when celebrating a goal can be stuck to.
“I read them, the new protocols. We are going to follow them”, said the City head coach
“But when one guy scores a goal, I don’t know if they can be controlled and not celebrate it.
All of us are tested negative, every two days. I don’t know what is going to happen - but one guy scores a goal, the joy to celebrate it, I don’t know if he is going to think I cannot hug my mate for two, three seconds.
City are next in action at home to Premier League strugglers Brighton on Wednesday evening.