Portsmouth fear coronavirus outbreak is 'widespread' as senior players test positive

Mark Catlin admitted the Pompey coronavirus outbreak appears ‘widespread’ as further cases were confirmed.

Sunday, 20th December 2020, 5:39 pm
Updated Monday, 21st December 2020, 12:06 pm

And that looks set to plunge the Blues’ season into chaos with Boxing Day’s fixture with Swindon likely to be postponed and the possibility others could follow suit.

Two further players today tested positive for Covid-19 after Jack Whatmough yesterday did likewise, following the defender falling ill ahead of the Hull game.

The News understands the players in question are senior members of Kenny Jackett’s squad who would likely have been involved in the Swindon clash.

Pompey have suspended group training with the decision made to now test the entire squad after the latest developments.

Blues chief executive Mark Catlin explained there are now concerns about what those results can reveal, coming just hours after getting the green light to push forward with fixtures when players tested negative after coming into close contact with Whatmough.

Catlin underlined the well-being of those in and around the first-team set-up is of critical significance, with the club following the relevant guidelines issued by the EFL and government.

Pompey have seen a coronavirus outbreak intensify

He said: 'As I said these things are moving quickly and situation is changing hourly.

‘It’s moving rapidly and unfortunately a couple of players reported not feeling well today.

‘We’ve had them tested and unfortunately they’ve come back positive.

‘So we’ve now taken the decision to test the whole squad.

'Obviously safety is paramount and EFL protocols deem that in the event of a positive test and people feeling unwell you need to isolate the people who have come into direct contact by their definition.

‘But it’s quite clear this is more widespread in line with the rest of society.

‘So we’ve taken the decision to totally err on the side of caution and test the whole squad.’

The news of the positive tests follows on just 48 hours from the euphoria of Pompey moving to the top of the League One table after victory at Hull.

The weekend has brought further outbreaks in the division, however, with six positive tests at Ipswich.

That follows on from similar problems at Sunderland, where the positive cases are now believed to be into double figures.

Peterborough have also seen an outbreak tear through their squad with Bristol Rovers calling off two games.

There were no plans for an emergency EFL meeting to discuss the way forward and the prospect of the season being suspended, but that now appears likely to change after the latest developments.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

The News has launched a new subscription offer which gives you unlimited access to all of our Pompey coverage, starting at less than £1 a week.

You can subscribe here to get the latest news and transfer updates from Fratton Park - and to support our local team of expert Pompey writers.