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Covid chaos Bulgaria lose three players to coronavirus as remainder of Ireland squad given all-clear


Graham Burke has been brought up to the Ireland squad

Graham Burke has been brought up to the Ireland squad


Graham Burke has been brought up to the Ireland squad

Bulgaria have suffered a blow ahead of Wednesday's Nations League match in Dublin as a further three players are ruled out, having tested positive for Covid-19.

The Bulgarian squad had already been ravaged by injury and 10 earlier Covid-19 cases but in between Sunday's 2-1 loss to Finland and a

Tuesday morning departure to Dublin, three more players tested positive.

Back up keeper Hristian Vassilev and defenders Vasil Bozhikov and Dimitar Velkovski, who both started in the last match,
have returned to their clubs.

"We are going to Dublin to have a good match. Anything is possible, and I have said it many times that we are going to win," manager Georgi Dermendzhiev said before the squad left Sofia.

"The national team has been viewed very negatively for some time, and that is very unpleasant. But such is the reality and we must bear the criticism. It takes a lot of patience to make the right decisions."

He admitted that he has to simply cope despite his injury and Covid problems. "The issue with the absentees is difficult, but the boys who are here will go out and play against Ireland," he said.

"They also have problems with injury and Covid-19. We will see what team they will come up with."

The FAI have, meanwhile, confirmed that the remainder of the Ireland squad to face Bulgaria has tested negative for Covid-19.

Following the withdrawals yesterday of Matt Doherty and James McClean due to positive coronavirus tests, Stephen Kenny's squad has been given a clean bill of health ahead of the must-win Aviva Stadium tie.

Ireland need to beat Bulgaria to avoid relegation in the Nations League, and Kenny has drafted in Shamrock Rovers duo Graham Burke and Aaron McEneff, as well as Jack Taylor (Peterborough) and Troy Parrott (Millwall), who have been promoted from the U21s.

An FAI statement read: "The Football Association of Ireland can confirm that all players and staff tested negative for COVID-19 ahead of the UEFA Nations League match against Bulgaria.

"The round of testing took place yesterday on arrival back into Dublin ahead of the fixture on Wednesday, November 18 at the Aviva Stadium.

Online Editors