A third Brighton player has tested positive for coronavirus. The unnamed player will go into isolation for 14 days while he recovers.
The rest of the squad will continue to train as they have been doing during the lockdown, both at home and in solo sessions at the club’s training ground. Two other players, whose names have not been made public, contracted the virus earlier in the pandemic. They are understood to have recovered but it is not clear whether or not they have returned to training.
Brighton’s chief executive, Paul Barber, confirmed the news. “Unfortunately, despite all the measures we have all been taking over the last few weeks, when the players haven’t been involved in taking any significant training at all, we have still suffered another player testing positive for the virus,” he told Sky Sports.
The news comes the day before Premier League clubs are due to meet to discuss Project Restart’s plans to complete the season at neutral venues. “There are concerns and I think it is normal for all clubs to have those concerns,” said Barber. “We want to make sure we do all that we can [so] that the protocols that are put into place are safe and secure and mitigate the risk.”
Brighton’s technical director, Dan Ashworth, insists that player safety is the main issue to be addressed at the meeting, with Sunday’s diagnosis likely to bring that into further focus. “The safety of players and staff is top of that list, everyone’s working hard to minimise risk for those groups,” he told the club’s official website. “Then there’s a series of things: where will the games be played? When can we start? When can the players train to make sure they’re not at risk of injury? How will the games be aired?
“The most important thing is safety, then you can look at the whole thing and discuss how it can all look, it’s about putting together the pieces of the jigsaw once we have a better idea of what the plan looks like.”
The Crystal Palace chairman, Steve Parish, is backing Premier League clubs to come to an agreement. Aston Villa and Watford have joined Brighton in speaking out against plans to play the remaining 92 games at neutral venues but Parish hopes clubs can unite. “There are no easy answers, we have to work through it as a collective and I think we will and come out with a consensus in the end,” he said on the Andrew Marr Show. “[The meeting] is another part of the journey in trying to get football back. We would be derelict in our duty if we did not find a way for the game to come back. It may prove beyond us, we have huge challenges in order to get it back to complete the season but we are planning on doing so.”
The Premier League will have a keen eye on how things pan out in Germany, where the top two league are due to restart next weekend. However, that has been complicated after the Bundesliga 2 side Dynamo Dresden went into a 14-day quarantine after two players tested positive for coronavirus. Their match has been postponed.
Parish added: “Hopefully we have the German situation going on, if that is successful that could provide a blueprint for us. We are hoping it is successful. Clearly we can see some of the early challenges, they may prove insurmountable. The concern for us is if they prove insurmountable now, we may be in for a very, very extended period of not being able to play and that has huge ramifications for the game.”