EPL

Coronavirus: Rodgers not considering possibility of neutral venues for Leicester

By Sports Desk June 29, 2020

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers insists he is paying no heed to the possibility of playing home games at neutral venues amid suggestions the region will be placed under a local lockdown.

Three of the Foxes' remaining seven Premier League fixtures - against Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Manchester United - are due to be staged at the King Power Stadium.

However, a spike in COVID-19 cases in the city of Leicester - where 866 of their 2,987 positive cases have been reported in the two weeks to June 23 - has led to the possibility of the region being placed back under a localised lockdown.

That could prevent Champions League-chasing Leicester from playing at their own ground and while Rodgers acknowledged his players are prepared for any eventuality, he is trying not to focus on the possibility of playing at neutral venues.

"It's something I'm not really thinking of, to be honest," Rodgers told reporters at a news conference on Monday.

"It's all hypothetical at the moment so there's nothing really to answer on. We'll just get on with our work.

"Nothing's changed really in terms of how we've been working thus far throughout this situation.

"I've always said, we'll react accordingly. We have to have agility in this period.

"In this moment in time we're in the safest place we can be in terms of our work, the stadium also, it's a very safe environment for the games to be in. We'll just keep working until we're told otherwise."

Rodgers tested positive for coronavirus himself in March but recovered during the Premier League's hiatus.

Though the region where Leicester play is struggling to contain COVID-19, Rodgers believes the players are as well protected as they can be.

"As a football club, we're very protected, the players and everyone, we're still in a bubble where the players are in, they're tested twice a week," Rodgers said after Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final loss to Chelsea.

"They're virtually in and back home again, a lot of them don't live in that central Leicester area, it's more urban and outside of that.

"You're always concerned nationally in terms of COVID and trying to ensure the rates are down, but I think we're in a position here at the club, like most other clubs, we're very much protected.

"We couldn't be in a better place so that gives confidence to continue your work."

Related items

  • Solskjaer proud as Haaland closes in on his Champions League record Solskjaer proud as Haaland closes in on his Champions League record

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows Erling Haaland's rapid rise means his days as the top-scoring Norwegian in Champions League history are numbered. 

    Manchester United boss Solskjaer coached Haaland when he was a teenager at Molde in their homeland. 

    Since moving first to Salzburg and then Borussia Dortmund, Haaland has exploded onto European football's biggest stage. 

    Dortmund entertain Lazio on Wednesday, with Haaland already on 16 Champions League goals. 

    Solskjaer, who famously netted a stoppage-time winner for United in the 1999 final against Bayern Munich, will take charge of the Red Devils against Paris Saint-Germain this week and remains full of admiration for his young compatriot. 

    "He'll beat it and very quickly that’s for sure," he told reporters, referring to his own tally of 19 goals in the competition. 

    "The boy has had a great start to his career. It was really good to work with him and to see the potential in him and some parts of me feel proud to have a little bit of an input in such a rise. 

    "I'm sure Erling will score loads of goals in the Champions League."

    Haaland is the third-highest scoring player from Norway in the Champions League, with ex-Valencia and Lyon striker John Carew next in his sights on 18. 

    However, the time in which the 20-year-old has amassed his tally is remarkable, as he dwarfs his countrymen when it comes to goals per minute. 

    Solskjaer, who famously made a habit out of goalscoring cameos from the bench, got his 19 Champions League goal at a rate of one every 189 minutes, while Carew's ratio was one per 218 minutes. 

    Haaland launched his Champions League career with a hat-trick when Salzburg thrashed Genk 6-2 last September. His scoring frequency has barely let up since, with his 16 tallying at one every 56 minutes. 

    Since that incredible maiden outing, only Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has scored more in the competition - a haul of 18 during that period playing a big part in the Bundesliga giants' march to glory last season. 

    Lewandowski and Haaland are very much out on their own, with the former's Bayern colleague Serge Gnabry next on nine goals - four of which arrived during a 7-2 thumping of Tottenham. 

    First with Atletico Madrid and now with Juventus, Alvaro Morata has managed eight Champions League goals since Haaland's debut, while Timo Werner and Karim Benzema join Manchester City duo Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling on seven. 

    Lionel Messi is one of seven players on six goals during the period in question, while Cristiano Ronaldo has five. 

    In terms of minutes-per-goal, Haaland is only bettered by Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, with the England international's total of five arriving at a rate of one every 50.4 minutes - a return bolstered by his hat-trick against RB Leipzig last month. 

    The Dortmund youngster's reputation as a dead-eyed finisher is certainly well-earned, too. 

    Morata (47 per cent) is the only player with six or more goals to boast a better shot conversion rate than Haaland's 44.4 - outstripping Lewandowski's 32.7 per cent. 

    If he does beat Solskjaer's mark "very quickly" it will be entirely consistent with Haaland's career to date, which is in a gloriously prolific hurry.

  • Benzema back as Real Madrid eye Shakhtar revenge Benzema back as Real Madrid eye Shakhtar revenge

    Karim Benzema is back in the Real Madrid starting XI to face Shakhtar Donetsk as one of four changes made by Zinedine Zidane.

    The influential French centre-forward has six goals in 11 appearances across all competitions this season, but he has not featured since netting in a 4-1 LaLiga defeat to Valencia on November 8.

    In his absence due to a muscular issue, Benzema's team-mates have fared little better, following a 1-1 draw at Villarreal with a 2-1 defeat at home to Deportivo Alaves.

    They did at least manage a 2-0 win against Inter in between those domestic disappointments, leaving them second in Champions League Group B.

    Madrid are on seven points, one shy of Borussia Monchengladbach and three ahead of a Shakhtar side who claimed a shock 3-2 win in the Spanish capital to launch their campaign.

    Zidane has also recalled Ferland Mendy, Martin Odegaard and Rodrygo to face the Ukrainian champions.

  • Aston Villa v Newcastle United postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak within Magpies squad Aston Villa v Newcastle United postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak within Magpies squad

    Aston Villa's clash with Newcastle United has become the first Premier League match this season to be postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak within one of the teams.

    Newcastle say there are "several" players and staff members self-isolating after returning positive tests in recent days.

    The club's training ground has been closed in an effort to contain the outbreak, which has hampered the squad's ability to train and prepare for Friday's game at Villa Park.

    Newcastle lodged a request with the Premier League to have the game moved, which was accepted on Tuesday.

    In a statement, the Premier League Board said it agreed that Newcastle were "unable to train and adequately and safely prepare for their match on Friday".

    The statement added: "The decision has been taken in consultation with Newcastle United and Aston Villa, and following extensive consultation with PHE [Public Health England] and Premier League medical advisors, with the health of players and staff the priority.

    "All players and training ground staff will be re-tested this week and another meeting between the club, PHE and the Premier League will take place to assess the test results.

    "The Premier League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture against Aston Villa in due course."

    Newcastle said: "The match, which was set to kick off at 8pm (GMT) on Friday evening, will now be rescheduled and a new date and time will be confirmed in due course. Newcastle United would like to thank Aston Villa Football Club for its understanding.

    "Newcastle United was one of the first clubs in the country to close its training ground prior to the first national lockdown in March and the club introduced comprehensive COVID-19 protocols in line with Premier League and government guidance to protect its players and staff ahead of Project Restart.

    "While the club has continued to ensure strict adherence to these protocols, and despite previously experiencing only a very small number of isolated COVID-19 cases, positive test results have risen sharply in recent days."

    Newcastle are 13th in the table, a point behind Aston Villa, who have played a game less.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.