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rising numbers As Man United's game at Brentford is called off, the Premier League is facing a vaccination crisis

United made the announcement to confirm their game at Brentford was postponed shortly before midnight on Monday.

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Covid cases in the Manchester United squad have put their game with Brentford in doubt. Photo: Getty Images

Covid cases in the Manchester United squad have put their game with Brentford in doubt. Photo: Getty Images

Covid cases in the Manchester United squad have put their game with Brentford in doubt. Photo: Getty Images

The Premier League clash between Brentford and Manchester United that was due to be played on Tuesday night has been postponed, with a Covid crisis now emerging in the Premier League once again.

United made the announcement to confirm their game at Brentford was postponed shortly before midnight on Monday, after a succession of positive Covid tests in their squad.

"Following PCR confirmation of positive LFT Covid-19 tests among the first-team staff and players, the outbreak requires ongoing surveillance," read a club statement.

"A decision was taken to close first-team operations at the Carrington Training Complex for 24 hours to help minimise risk of further infection, and individuals who tested positive are isolating in line with Premier League protocols.

"Given cancellation of training and disruption to the squad, and with the health of players and staff the priority, the Club requested the match to be rearranged. The Premier League Board took the decision to postpone based on guidance from medical advisors.

"Manchester United regrets the inconvenience caused to Brentford FC and to the fans of both clubs by Covid-19."

This latest postponement comes on the back of Tottenham being forced to cancel their last two matches amid a Covid outbreak, while Norwich and Aston Villa has also reported a number of cases and Monday’s Championship fixture between QPR and Sheffield United was postponed due to an outbreak at the London club.

There are now real concerns that football in England could be halted amid the Covid crisis that has been sparked by the emergence of the Omicron variant, with medical experts in the UK repeatedly suggesting in recent days that they expect one million cases of the virus to have spread around the nation by the end of this month.

The trouble the Premier League and Football League now have may be accentuated by the number of unvaccinated players across the game, with players forced to isolate when they come into contact with a colleague who has contracted Covid-19.

If vaccination rates were higher, players could continue to play and train even if they came into close contact with a virus victim, but the low number of players who have taken the jab could not lead to a major crisis for the English game.

The Premier League confirmed in October that 68% of its players are fully vaccinated against the virus, which was some way short of the vaccine rate among players in Germany's Bundesliga (94%) and the Italian league (reported to be 98%).

sundayworld.com are aware of several Premier League clubs where vaccine rates are limited, with a player who wishes to remain anonymous telling us that vaccine scepticism is a big issue.

"A lot of players don't want to take the vaccines and that won't change," the player told us. "We are young, healthy and don't feel it is something we need to do. We take care about what we put into our bodies and at the moment, these vaccines are not something some of us want to take."

Pressure may now be applied on players to fall into line and take a vaccine or risk a shutdown in the league, with the prospect of game's being played behind closed doors once again also a concern for Premier League clubs.

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"All of us have got a concern (about stadiums closing) because we have seen that the numbers of infections are rising rapidly, but we are outside and that is the best kind of ventilation," Barber told Sky Sports. "If people keep their face masks on, that is another layer of protection that will make a big difference."

It remains to be seen when Tottenham and Manchester United will play their next match and with 42 positive cases confirmed in the Premier League this week, the largest number since testing began, the English game is braced for another challenging few weeks.

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