Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Brighton on Saturday is called OFF

REVEALED: Man United had just SEVEN players available to face Brighton, forcing the Premier League to postpone the game, but bosses say the show MUST go on despite calls to stop the season

  • Man United have seen a second Premier League game called off due to Covid-19
  • Saturday lunchtime’s clash at home to Brighton has now been postponed 
  • The Red Devils have shut their Carrington training base until Tuesday at least
  • The match is the fifth Premier League game to be called off due to Omicron
  • The Premier League has ruled out a full suspension despite pressure to stop



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Manchester United’s next Premier League match with Brighton on Saturday lunchtime has been postponed as the Red Devils continue to struggle with the coronavirus outbreak in their squad.

Ralf Rangnick’s side were forced to postpone their last match – a trip to west London side Brentford – on Tuesday night after being forced to close their Carrington training base after last weekend’s win over Norwich. 

United have since returned more positive coronavirus results and while some players were able to train this week, the club are unable to field a team this weekend with only seven players available for the Brighton match.  

Only nine players were available to ahead of Tuesday night’s match against Brentford, with United boss Rangnick resorting to using youth team players during the training sessions that took place this week. 

The Red Devils also announced that their training complex will revert back to being closed until Tuesday at least, in order to reduce the risk of transmission. David de Gea, Marcus Rashford, Fred and Alex Telles were four of the players who trained at Carrington’s training base before it closed again.

The match is the fifth Premier League match to be called off due to outbreaks of the Omicron variant that has infected tens of thousands around the UK – but the top-flight insist there will not be a league-wide suspension of matches.  

Manchester United's Premier League clash with Brighton has been called off due to Covid

Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Brighton has been called off due to Covid

United were able to train this week but only nine players were available to play on Saturday

United were able to train this week but only nine players were available to play on Saturday

A Premier League statement on Thursday read: ‘While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, it is the League’s intention to continue its current fixture schedule where safely possible. The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority.’ 

Brentford manager Thomas Frank began an appeal to get this weekend’s full round of Premier League matches, along with next week’s Carabao Cup quarter-final ties, called off so clubs can get their coronavirus cases under control. 

English football is preparing for at least a dozen more requests to postpone matches amidst the Omicron surge. 

Thursday night’s top-flight clash between Leicester City and Tottenham has been called off following requests from both camps this week and while Chelsea also reported a small number of cases on Thursday, their match with Everton tonight will still go ahead.

According to ESPN, an increasing number of clubs are said to be keen on the idea of stopping play until January 8 next year – which would rule our four rounds of Premier League fixture, including this weekend. 

United's Carrington training base has closed once again and will remain shut until Tuesday

United’s Carrington training base has closed once again and will remain shut until Tuesday

As well as United’s postponed clash with Brentford on Tuesday, Burnley’s match against Watford on Wednesday was called off two hours before kick-off after the Hornets announced an outbreak in their team. 

Last weekend’s clash between Brighton and Tottenham was called off after Spurs reported that 13 players from Antonio Conte’s squad had tested positive for the virus. 

In the EFL, as many as seven matches this weekend were called off on Thursday, including Saturday matches between Sheffield Wednesday and Accrington and Crawley’s encounter with Oldham Athletic. 

The Premier League is holding daily briefings, while the League Managers’ Association is in regular dialogue with the top flight and EFL as managers seek clarity on a rapidly worsening situation.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank wants this weekend's Premier League games to be postponed

Brentford boss Thomas Frank wants this weekend’s Premier League games to be postponed

The Bees have recorded 13 positive cases among players and club staff as of Thursday

The Bees have recorded 13 positive cases among players and club staff as of Thursday

THIS WEEK’S GAMES POSTPONED SO FAR

Premier League

Leicester vs Tottenham

Manchester United vs Brighton

Championship

Cardiff vs Derby 

League One

Gillingham vs Crewe

Sheffield Wednesday vs Accrington

Lincoln City vs Doncaster 

League Two

Crawley vs Oldham

Barrow vs Northampton Town

Swindon Town vs Walsall 

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While the Premier League and EFL wish for the campaign to continue, there is a growing belief among club medics that an enforced break is looking increasingly likely. 

The Omicron variant has led to a large increase of cases in the UK, with 78,610 people testing positive on Wednesday – the highest daily number since the pandemic began. 

Brentford manager Frank claims the variant is ‘running like wildfire’ around the world and that shutting down football for at least a week would help clubs get their players back under control.  

The Danish manager told a press conference on Thursday morning: ‘It would give everyone a week at least, or four or five days to clean and do everything at the training ground so everything is clean and you break the chain.

‘Also in football, you need close contact. Physios need to do their job with players in treatment. We are in dressing room on matchdays, we are travelling by coaches so it’s a little bit more difficult to work from home.’ 

Frank believes a decision to halt this weekend’s round of top-flight fixtures could be enough to sure the busy festive programme will be able to go ahead largely as planned.

‘We fully respect that we want to play and it is important football keeps going, and this way we can make sure Boxing Day keeps going, I’m 100 per cent sure of that,’ added Frank.

‘This Omicron variant is running like wildfire around the world and I think we need to do all we can to protect and avoid it. I think we can do a lot by closing down training grounds for three, four or five days, and then we can go again.’

HOW OMICRON HAS THE PREMIER LEAGUE ON EDGE

Brentford

The Bees have 13 cases among players and staff – the club are now calling for a circuit-breaker shutdown to help clubs recover.

Leicester

Will be without several players for Tottenham’s visit on Thursday due to Covid. The game is now set to be postponed after initial calls it called off were rejected by the Premier League.

Manchester United

Case numbers are currently unknown but a large outbreak saw their game with Brentford postponed. Calls to have Saturday’s game with Brighton to be postponed were accepted on Thursday due to the outbreak at the club.

Brighton

Had request to have game with Wolves postponed rejected by the Premier League following an outbreak at the club. Graham Potter confirmed there were ‘three to four’ positive cases before the game. Game with Manchester United has now been postponed.

Norwich

Dean Smith is facing an anxious wait to discover the full extent of the outbreak at the club. Currently in discussions with the Premier League over Saturday’s clash with West Ham.

Watford

Saw the game with Burnley postponed just hours before kick-off. Case numbers currently unknown.

Tottenham

Spurs were the first Premier League club to be hit by the Omicron variant last week and saw games against Brighton and Rennes postponed after cases reached double digits among players and staff. Those who tested positive for the virus are expected to return in the next couple of days after completing their 10-day self-isolation period. Spurs’ clash with Leicester on Thursday is now set to be postponed after initial demands to have the game called off were rejected.

Chelsea

After Brentford, the Blues became the latest club to be hit by a Covid outbreak, after it was confirmed ahead of their game with Everton that three more first-team players had tested positive for Covid, with Mateo Kovacic the first Chelsea player to get the virus this week.

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Nations League: England are drawn in group with Euro 2020 rivals Italy

Gareth Southgate insists the ‘fire is burning’ for Nations League bid after England are drawn in tough group with Euro 2020 champions Italy, Germany and Hungary

  • England were drawn against Italy, Germany and Hungary in Nations League 
  • It pits Gareth Southgate’s men against Euro 2020 final opponents once again 
  • Newly-promoted Wales are in a tough group against Belgium and Holland  
  • The first round of the European competition is set to kick off next June 



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Gareth Southgate insists his players are ‘burning’ with desire to prove their position as one of world football’s powerhouses after being grouped with Germany and Italy in the Nations League. 

England were pooled alongside two of their Euro 2020 opponents and Hungary, who they faced during World Cup qualification, in Thursday’s draw in Nyon, Switzerland. 

Despite the daunting group, England head into the tournament — at the end of the domestic season — as one of the favourites, after losing to Italy on penalties in the final of the European Championship.

Gareth Southgate's England will face Euro 2020 rivals Italy in the Nations League groups

Gareth Southgate’s England will face Euro 2020 rivals Italy in the Nations League groups 

Southgate said: ‘What the summer gave us was the confidence that we got to where we did but also we retain the hunger that we haven’t got to where we want to get. I think that fire is burning in our group of players. I think over the last few years we have had some great progress in terms of tournament progression. 

‘One of the things that we spoke about over the last couple of years was needing to beat more of those top teams. We were able to win in Spain in the last Nations League, we lost to and beat Belgium in the most recent Nations League. We got a win against Germany in the summer, so we are starting to beat those teams.

‘What we have got to do is beat them on a regular basis and that is the next step for us. To win tournaments you have got to win against the biggest countries. That is the missing piece.’

On the prospect of facing Hungary, whose fans racially abused England players earlier this year, Southgate added: ‘We’ve got to understand that it could be a difficult fixture.’

They will have a chance to avenge their final defeat by Italy after they were beaten on penalties

They will have a chance to avenge their final defeat by Italy after they were beaten on penalties

Another clash with old foes Germany is also in the offing when the competition starts next year

Another clash with old foes Germany is also in the offing when the competition starts next year

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Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa refuses to put a time-frame on Kalvin Phillips’s return

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa refuses to put a time-frame on Kalvin Phillips’s return as he reveals the midfielder could undergo shoulder surgery while sidelined with hamstring injury

  • Kalvin Phillips hobbled off with a hamstring injury in Leeds’s draw with Brentford
  • The midfielder has been a shoulder problem since match with West Brom in May
  • Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa revealed he could undergo surgery while sidelined
  • Patrick Bamford injured his hamstring after scoring a late goal against the Bees



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Marcelo Bielsa has refused to set a time-frame for Kalvin Phillips’s return to first-team action and indicated he could send the midfielder for shoulder surgery if he faces an extended spell on the sidelines.

The 26-year-old England international limped out of Leeds‘ draw with Brentford last week with a hamstring injury while Liam Cooper and Patrick Bamford sustained similar injuries, ruling all three out of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Chelsea.

Phillips has been battling a shoulder problem since sustaining the injury against West Brom in May and Bielsa admitted it would make sense to fix the issue if reports of a possible two-month absence prove accurate.

Marcelo Bielsa (above) has refused to set a time-frame for Kalvin Phillips's return to action

Marcelo Bielsa (above) has refused to set a time-frame for Kalvin Phillips’s return to action

The Leeds midfielder hobbled off for his side in their 2-2 draw against Brentford on Sunday

The Leeds midfielder hobbled off for his side in their 2-2 draw against Brentford on Sunday

Bielsa said: ‘The time they will be out is subject to their evolution, and I can’t express myself any clearer in that sense.

‘If the time that (Phillips) needs to recover from this (hamstring) injury exceeds the one that he needs to recover from his shoulder, then it makes sense.

‘But as we don’t know how long he is going to take to recover from his current injury, I can’t apply that common sense.’

In a further setback for Bielsa’s side, striker Bamford hurt himself as he ran off after his dramatic 95th-minute goal against the Bees.

Bamford had come off the bench to make his first appearance in almost three months following an ankle injury, but is now a doubt again for Saturday’s trip to Chelsea.

Patrick Bamford sustained a similar injury celebrating the late equaliser against the Bees

Patrick Bamford sustained a similar injury celebrating the late equaliser against the Bees

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Beckham: Qatar 2022 will be a dream for players and fans

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Hataoka, Yang lead; J. Korda, Yin one back at LPGA Shanghai

Nasa Hataoka should be getting more worldwide attention.

With two Japan LPGA Tour major championship victories in her homeland over the last month, she arrived for the start of this week’s Buick LPGA Shanghai on fire.

And she didn’t cool off in Thursday’s first round.

A 5-under-par 67 at Qizhong Garden Golf Club gave Hataoka a share of the lead with South Korea’s Amy Yang.

They’re one-shot ahead of Americans Jessica Korda and Angel Yin and two ahead of a pack of seven players that includes defending champ Danielle Kang, Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson.


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


In her last start two weeks ago, Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open, the most prestigious title in her country. She is seeking her fifth worldwide title in the last 12 months.

“I’m very proud of how I play and win tournament in Japan,” Hataoka said. “But my goal is to win a major [on the LPGA]. So, I want to keep working to achieve the goal.”

Hataoka, 20, climbed to No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings with her Japan Women’s Open victory but slipped back a spot to No. 4 this week.

Korda likes her position making her first start since the Solheim Cup, where she and her sister, Nelly, were both undefeated for the week (3-0-1 records).

“A little rusty with a couple shots,” Korda said. “I’m going to the driving range to try to figure that out a little bit. But, yeah, I was really proud of myself today.”

Notably, Korda is one of six participants in last month’s Solheim Cup who are sitting T-5 or better after the first round in China. Kang and Yin are among them on the American side. England’s Bronte Law (69) and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (69) are on the Euro side, as is England’s Mel Reid (69), who was a vice captain at the Solheim Cup.

Rolex world No. 1 Jin Young Ko opened with an even-par 72.

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