Manchester United had a scare at their Carrington training ground on Tuesday as a friendly was cancelled at the last minute after Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill tested positive for the coronavirus.
The two clubs had arranged a behind-closed-doors friendly at Man Utd’s training base as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side step up preparations ahead of the return of the Premier League, beginning with a visit to Tottenham on 19 June.
Players from both teams were spotted arriving at Man Utd’s training base only for the Stoke players to leave shortly after, before a ball was kicked.
It is understood Stoke were preparing for the game in the Academy Building when news filtered through from the EFL of a positive Covid-19 test which had been taken the day before in preparation for the restart of the Championship.
The visiting players left the training ground and Solskjaer’s side continued with their preparations including an inter-squad game. It is understood Stoke players and staff had not come into contact with any Man Utd players or staff due to safety protocols that are currently in place at the training ground.
Stoke announced on Tuesday evening that it was O’Neill that had produced the positive test as the manager will now enter a period of isolation as the team continues preparation for a return to play.
‘Stoke City can confirm that manager Michael O’Neill has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus following the latest round of testing on Monday [June 8],’ the club said in a statement. ‘O’Neill had tested negative in the previous five rounds of testing.
‘He will now follow the relevant guidance and undergo a period of isolation, whilst continuing to be in regular virtual contact with his coaching staff and players.
‘Assistant manager Billy McKinlay will take charge of training as the Potters prepare for their game against Reading on June 20.
‘The Club will be making no further comment on this matter.’
Premier League players and staff have been tested six times for the virus, ahead of next week’s restart, with the latest set of results showing zero positives from 1,195 tests.
Out of the six rounds of tests there have been a total of 13 positives out of 6,274 tests carried out, and none of them have been at Manchester United.
Solskjaer’s side returned to their Carrington training base at the end of last month after the go-ahead was given for socially-distanced training and preparations have been going well.
‘Everyone knows that we will have to be at our best, have to be focused against Tottenham,’ Solskjaer told the club website.
‘We know it’s a big game for everyone. We had Chelsea when we started the league this season, so I’m confident that our players can go into the Tottenham game with that mentality of going there to play a very good game of football.
‘Training has been about recapping what we did well, tweaking maybe one or two things and looking at some new ideas, but hopefully we can see a lot of what we saw towards the end before the lockdown.’
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