Steven Gerrard will miss Aston Villa’s next two Premier League games after testing positive for Covid-19, the club have announced.
The Villa head coach will not be in the dugout for the Boxing Day clash at home to Chelsea, live on Sky Sports, or Tuesday’s trip to Leeds.
The club said in a statement: “Aston Villa can confirm head coach Steven Gerrard will be unable to attend our next two Premier League matches with Chelsea and Leeds United as he will be isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.”
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Villa’s meeting with Burnley last weekend was postponed due to an increased number of positive coronavirus tests among the squad.
The match against Chelsea at Villa Park is one of six Premier League games still scheduled to go ahead on Boxing Day.
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One of the three games that have been postponed is Leeds’ trip to Liverpool, because of a Covid outbreak at the Yorkshire club on top of their injury problems, meaning it is unclear if Villa’s match at Elland Road on December 28 will go ahead anyway.
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In total, 25 Boxing Day games across the top four divisions of English football have been postponed after two more EFL fixtures were called off.
Luton’s match at home to Bristol City has become the seventh Championship fixture to fall, while Carlisle’s League Two game with Rochdale at Brunton Park has also been postponed.
Luton and Carlisle have both reported Covid outbreaks in their squads.
Only 10 EFL games are still due to go ahead on Boxing Day.
Premier League publishes guidance over fixture postponements
The concerns of managers and captains were heard by the Premier League at special meetings on Thursday.
Managers and players raised fears about the number of games they have to play in quick succession during the Christmas holiday period because of the demands it is putting on squads which have been reduced in size as a result of Covid-19.
Pep Guardiola raised the possibility of players striking over the congested fixture schedule, but does not think it is likely to happen
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola raised the possibility of players going on strike over welfare issues, while Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte labelled the meetings “a waste of time”.
Following calls from managers for transparency over why some matches have been called off and some have not, the Premier League has since published guidance to explain its protocols for postponing fixtures.
Clubs have been told they must provide the following information when applying for a game to be postponed:
- Details of players and staff who have Covid, their vaccination status and – if known – the source of their infections
- Players and staff unavailable through injury and illness
- Players on the squad list who are still available, including ‘appropriately experienced’ U21 players
- Medical information to verify status of each unavailable player, which will be reviewed by the Premier League’s medical advisers
Antonio Conte believes meetings between the Premier League and managers and players were a waste of time as pressure grows on the league over fixture congestion and rising coronavirus cases.
The Premier League will then consider the following factors when deciding whether to grant the request:
- Impact of Covid infections, injuries, illness and isolation on the squad, plus the number of first-team and ‘appropriately experienced’ U21 players available
- Matches will be postponed if a club does not have at least 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper available
- Status of any Covid outbreak at the club, including the number and source infections, and the proximity to the match
- Club’s ability to safely prepare its players
- Medical advice over whether there is an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of players and staff by playing the match
- Advice from UK Health Securities Agency and other public bodies
- Other exceptional circumstances
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