Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says that the Grecians had no positive results from their latest round of testing for Covid-19, but that is not the case for Saturday’s FA Cup third round opponents, Sheffield Wednesday, who are beset by Covid issues.

City were tested earlier this week and reported no positive results, while the Owls are in the midst of a crippling outbreak that will see them head to Devon without several players, their caretaker manager, Neil Thompson, and his two assistants, Lee Bullen and Steven Haslam.

The Championship strugglers have not revealed how many players will be missing, just that Academy coach Andy Holdsworth will lead an Owls XI made up of first teamers and players from their Under-23 and Under 18 teams, after a second round of testing this week revealed a ‘significant number’ of positive results.

Unlike the EFL, FA rules stipulate that teams must fulfill the fixture if they have 14 players or more fit and available to play, which is the case for the men from Hillsborough.



Matt Taylor, Manager of Exeter City during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Forest Green Rovers at St James Park, Exeter on 26 December. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“There was one that we just had to check for a second time, but they all came back negative,” Taylor said about City’s results.

However, while it was good news for the Grecians, it could not have been worse for Wednesday, who shut their training ground at the beginning of the week due to an outbreak and that has not opened since after further tests came back positive following a second round of testing, which took place on Tuesday.

“We keep hearing this line about several players and staff isolating or unavailable, but we don’t know the extent of it,” Taylor said.

“We had a similar sort of situation a few weeks ago where we had two positive cases and then four other players or staff isolating, so we had six people away from the building and that can be classed as several, but we carried on under the guidelines and regulations we are working to.”

Wednesday released a statement on their official website that read: “Sheffield Wednesday can confirm that a significant number of club personnel have returned positive results for Covid-19 following tests conducted this week.

“Amongst those affected are caretaker manager Neil Thompson and his temporary assistants Lee Bullen and Steven Haslam.



SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Neil Thompson, First Team Coach and Interim Manager of Sheffield Wednesday looks on following the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough at Hillsborough Stadium on December 29, 2020 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 29: Neil Thompson, First Team Coach and Interim Manager of Sheffield Wednesday looks on following the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough at Hillsborough Stadium on December 29, 2020 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

“Consequently, the trio will be absent from the dugout when the Owls travel to Exeter in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.

“Academy coach Andy Holdsworth, assisted by Daral Pugh, Nicky Weaver and Tony Strudwick, will take charge of the team at St James Park.

“All personnel who have tested positive are now in a period of isolation in line with Government protocol.

“The club’s Middlewood Road training complex was closed down earlier this week and will remain so until further notice.”

Wednesday are not the only club facing a Covid crisis this weekend with the FA Cup programme set to be decimated by cases across the UK.

Southampton’s FA Cup third-round tie against Shrewsbury has been called off due to a coronavirus outbreak at the Sky Bet League One club.

Elsewhere, both Aston Villa and Middlesbrough have seen their preparations for their third-round ties disrupted by a series of positive tests.

Villa, who are due to host Premier League counterparts Liverpool on Friday evening, have closed their Bodymoor Heath training ground after revealing “a large number” of players and staff members had contracted the virus.

A statement released by Villa yesterday read: “A large number of first team players and staff returned positive tests after being routinely tested on Monday and immediately went into isolation.

“A second round of testing was carried out immediately and produced more positive results today.





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