Steve Bruce says it could be ‘morally wrong’ to finish the season with football hit with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases – and after two Newcastle players were left ‘very, very sick’ following positive tests
- A spate of positive coronavirus tests has plunged the current season into chaos
- Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has questioned the morality of playing until the end
- Bruce is conflicted on the dilemma due to the financial and health ramifications
- Newcastle and Aston Villa are two Premier League clubs hit with big outbreaks
Steve Bruce has questioned the morality of continuing the season in the midst of the coronavirus crisis – but insisted fielding youth teams in the FA Cup this weekend will ‘devalue’ the competition.
The alarming spate of recent Covid-19 cases across the football pyramid in recent weeks has plunged domestic action into chaos, and unsurprisingly raised questions over what lies ahead for the campaign.
And when quizzed for his thoughts on the dilemma, Bruce admitted he is conflicted.
Steve Bruce has questioned the morality of continuing the season as coronavirus cases mount
He said: ‘We have had two players who were very, very sick and one or two members of staff who were nearly hospitalised.
‘It’s not been easy but yes we’ll keep going along – financially it’s right but maybe morally it’s wrong.
‘All of us are suffering and we are the lucky ones providing an entertainment that people are tuning into to watch, but there will come a stage where we have to make a decision, we hope in the next two or three weeks, (because) we don’t want to see these outbreaks.’
Newcastle coach Bruce has taken aim at clubs forced to field their youngsters in the FA Cup
Jamaal Lascelles (L) and Allan Saint-Maximin (R) have struggled with Covid’s long-term effects
Despite his own squad still struggling with the aftermath of its own outbreak, the Newcastle boss is determined to name a strong line-up for Saturday’s FA Cup third-round trip to Arsenal.
Aston Villa and Derby have both indicated they will field youth teams in their matches against Liverpool and Chorley respectively due to their ranks being depleted due to the virus.
It was revealed on Friday that Aston Villa have been hit with ten first-team players testing positive as part of the worrying increase in football-related cases.
But Bruce believes blooding youngsters in the absence of regulars is not the correct way to go.
Aston Villa have been rocked with an outbreak – with Dean Smith and his first-team in isolation
‘I think it devalues the FA Cup,’ he insisted.
‘We understand the restrictions, the season has been squashed and there is no room for anything else. (But) to play weakened teams and your youth team is not the way round it for me, personally.’
Captain Jamaal Lascelles was only given the green light to resume training this week after shaking off Covid-19, while Alain Saint-Maximin has returned to Tyneside but is still awaiting the all-clear.
Newcastle were forced to shut their training base after being met with a spate of positive cases
Despite having Lascelles back on the training pitch for the best part of a week, Bruce will exercise caution over his return and admitted it may take more time before the captain and Saint-Maximin are back up to match fitness.
He said: ‘We’re edging towards it but certainly Alain and Jamaal have been the ones who have suffered as much as anybody.
‘The big thing now is just how Jamaal feels. He’s been out for a long time and Alain’s been out for six weeks and not been able to do anything at all, so it’s another challenge to get him up and running again but hopefully there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.’
Bruce will treat the FA Cup fixture against Arsenal ‘seriously’ after two quarter-final knockouts
Bruce will look to keep changes to a minimum, however, with Martin Dubravka set to replace Karl Darlow in goal, and only Ryan Fraser and Jamal Lewis definitely ruled out due to injury.
He admitted his determination to improve the Magpies’ dismal record in cup competitions was only increased by quarter-final defeat to Manchester City last year and a last-eight loss to Championship Brentford in the EFL Cup just before Christmas.
‘I’m a bit disappointed that we’ve got to two quarter-finals and didn’t get past them, so I’m treating the Cup as seriously as I possibly can,’ Bruce added.
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