Tottenham and Leicester City have both been rejected by the Premier League in their bids to have their match tomorrow night postponed.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers revealed today he has nine players ruled out through Covid-19 and illness.
And Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said he had a ‘big problem’ with his team as Spurs too have had nine players infected.
The surge of the Omicron Covid variant is wreaking havoc in Premier League dressing rooms, but the league has rejected requests to have further games postponed this week, Sportsmail understands.
‘s fixture at on Tuesday was called off thanks to an outbreak among the visitors’ squad, while Tottenham’s match with last weekend went the same way.
And with the latest figures showing a record high of 42 positives across the Premier League, others have been in touch to ask for their games to be postponed.
However, those appeals have fallen on deaf ears, with the competition keen to ensure minimal disruption while keeping sporting integrity.
The Premier League will reject any future requests for fixtures to be postponed after two matches were called off this last week: Brighton vs Tottenham, and Brentford vs Man United
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers (left) said it was ‘disappointing’ the Premier League would not consider postponing their game against Tottenham on Thursday, while Spurs’ manager Antonio Conte (right) also fumed at his not being able to postpone the fixture
Spurs wanted tomorrow night’s match postponed in order to fulfil their Europa Conference League match with Rennes, which has now been cancelled after UEFA failed to find a date for it.
‘We don’t have fault for what happened. I tell you, we deserve to play this game and to try to have a chance to go to the next round,’ Conte insisted at his press conference on Wednesday.
‘The Premier League didn’t want to postpone the game against Leicester, maybe because we have to play against Burnley and Brighton. We postponed two games before. I can understand, we can understand. On the other hand, I think we deserve to play our chance against Rennes to go to the next group.
‘We don’t find a good solution between UEFA and Premier League, why Tottenham has to pay for this? It’s not fair we have to pay for a situation that isn’t our fault. I understand if we did something wrong but in this way, for the club, the players, the staff, it’s very difficult to understand what’s happening.’
Sportsmail revealed on Saturday that UEFA had asked Spurs to move one of their domestic December fixtures in order to fit in the game versus Rennes that was called off last week due to the Covid outbreak that ripped through Conte’s squad.
And it has now emerged that Spurs lodged the request with the Premier League to postpone the game at Leicester at the end of last week to free up a slot to play the European Conference League game against the Ligue 1 side – but the idea was rebuffed.
UEFA are expected to make a decision by the end of the week on the outcome of the Tottenham’s game versus Rennes after confirming the match couldn’t be rearranged in time for the December 31 deadline.
Harry Kane (centre) and Co will now have to fulfil their fixture against Leicester on Thursday
If the governing body rules that Tottenham must forfeit the game, they will be eliminated from European competition this season.
Rodgers also said the Premier League would not consider postponing his side’s game against Tottenham on Thursday despite the ongoing coronavirus issues at the club.
Leicester are without nine players through Covid-19 and other issues and Rodgers said his side had been ‘a big doubt’ to fulfil last Sunday’s fixture against Newcastle, which they won 4-0.
As well as players missing through illness, Rodgers will also be without centre-backs Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu against Spurs, after both picked up injuries in the last match.
Leicester will be without injured centre-backs Jonny Evans (right) and Caglar Soyuncu (left)
Leicester’s squad are so decimated by illness and injury that they have no fit centre backs
That leaves Rodgers desperately short in that position, with Wesley Fofana and James Justin sidelined with long-term injuries and Daniel Amartey back in training only on Wednesday.
‘Unfortunately for us we were not granted dispensation, which is disappointing,’ said Rodgers. ‘We are a club who have always wanted to support measures.
‘Maybe when you need that support with the extreme situation we were in, we were not able to get that, which was disappointing.
‘We have tried to keep the training ground open and have people functioning. We were a big doubt for the Newcastle game but for the greater good of the game and fans we played the game. Since then we have picked up a couple more injuries.
‘I am pretty sure there will have been games called off with fewer players unavailable than what we have, but we were not given that privilege to allow players to come back and have a fit squad.
‘It would be nice if there was a bit more clarity. It’s a testing time anyway, so not to be given that support is a little disappointing.’
Each request is made on a case by case basis. The impact on the first-team squad is key, although some clubs who do not want matches called off have pointed to the existence of Under-23 squads and the ability to draft youngsters into matchday squads.
Conte also revealed that some of Spurs’ players are back in training following their Covid isolation, but he warned that they are not yet physically ready to play matches without risk of injury.
‘Players are back in training and other players are continuing to be isolated, but also for the players back in training, they need time,’ he said. ‘They need a bit of time to be fit and find again a good physical condition.
‘When you have Covid, the Covid is not only 10 days. Many times, he brings with it, this virus, a situation that makes your body not so strong. For this reason, you have to go slowly, also because you risk having players injured after Covid.
‘Surely tomorrow I’ll put these players on the bench for 15-20 minutes at the end. They have in their legs 20 or 25 minutes to play with us.
‘I think is the big problem that we must be [prepared] to face in the future. To bring these players affected by Covid to be fit and avoid injuries. After 10 days you have players available but then you have to pay attention to the way to train, whether the body is ready to work in a good way. You have to pay attention, moderate the training to avoid injuries. This is the big problem, not only for Tottenham but for other clubs with Covid-hit players.’
Both United and Spurs had to close their training grounds after Covid outbreaks, while it was revealed on Tuesday that players will be forced to report to club training grounds for PCR tests on Day as part of a massively increased screening programme designed to save the festive programme from the threat of an shutdown.
Christmas Day PCR tests will be required for Premier League players under new protocols
Under new emergency protocols agreed by clubs on Tuesday, players will be asked to take up to nine tests each week – seven lateral flow and two PCR – due to fears about the greater transmissibility of the new variant.
While clubs unanimously agreed to the new testing regime, there are concerns in some quarters about the logistics involved, particularly the decision to make PCR tests mandatory the day before each fixture.
As a result, away teams may have to travel considerable distances while waiting for test results to ensure games can go ahead.
Furthermore, new rules for fans were announced on Wednesday.
Those attending matches will have to complete a Covid status declaration prior to matchday, along with displaying an NHS Covid pass or proof of a negative test within the last 48 hours. Checks will take place on around 20 per cent of those present.
Covid-19 spot checks outside Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium ahead of their Premier League game against Leeds United on Tuesday night
Supporters will have to get used to Covid checks with vaccine certificates or proof of a negative test required to gain entry to stadiums
A statement from the Premier League said: ‘From Wednesday 15 December, all those aged 18 and over attending Premier League matches must complete a COVID status self-declaration via their club’s website ahead of matchday.
‘This simple online process requires fans to confirm they have a valid NHS COVID pass or negative NHS COVID test within the previous 48 hours.
‘Supporters must be prepared to show their NHS COVID pass or proof of a negative NHS COVID test on arrival at the stadium. Checks will take place at all Premier League grounds.
‘Fans risk being denied entry if they are unable to show their NHS COVID Pass or proof of a negative NHS COVID test result from within the previous 48 hours, ideally as close to matchday as possible.
Norwich supporters wear face coverings during their match against Aston Villa on Tuesday
‘Fans must wear a face covering while in indoor stadium areas and when travelling to matches on public transport.
‘Although it is not mandatory within the stadium bowl, supporters are encouraged to wear face coverings in congested areas and in stands to protect themselves and those around them.
‘Supporters must not attend matches if they have any COVID-type symptoms or there is a risk of passing on COVID-19.’
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: ‘We are doing all we can to keep fans safe and grounds open at full capacity.
Manchester United were forced to close their Aon Training complex after a Covid outbreak
‘The safety of everyone remains our priority and since the start of the season we have been working closely with our clubs, Government and local public health authorities to prepare fans and stadium operations for the introduction of COVID certification.
‘It is really important fans take the time to understand what is required of them when attending Premier League stadiums, which is why we are asking fans to declare their COVID status ahead of a matchday.
‘We want everyone to enjoy matches in safe environments and we and our clubs will continue to urge fans to do all they can and follow public health guidance.’
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