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JOSE SNIPE Jose Mourinho leads chorus of derision as international football Covid chaos threatens Premier League clubs


Jose Mourinho is not a fan of the current international break (John Walton/PA)

Jose Mourinho is not a fan of the current international break (John Walton/PA)

Jose Mourinho is not a fan of the current international break (John Walton/PA)

Premier League clubs look certain to be fielding a host of back-up players in the next few weeks after injuries and positive Covid-19 tests cast a huge cloud over the final international break of 2020.

Despite the warnings of last month's chaotic international break that saw Cristiano Ronaldo and a host of high profile players from all parts of the world contract Covid-19 while they were away with their international teams, the green light was given for the another round of matches in the last week.

Inevitably, the Covid-19 crisis has gripped international sides around the world and now the cost of this ill-conceived international break can start to be added up.

Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny saw his plans torn apart by positive coronavirus tests in his camp before and after the Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia and that issue has also been a theme this month, with Tottenham's Matt Doherty and Stoke's James McClean the latest players to test positive for Covid-19.

Tottenham are also waiting to see whether striker Son Heung-min will return in good health after being part of a South Korea side that had six players recording positive Covid-19 tests, while Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny has returned a positive coronavirus test while away with Egypt.

He joins Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah self-isolating in Egypt after he contracted Covid-19 while on international duty, with dozens of players around the world now set to miss games for their club after contracting the virus on international duty.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp spoke of his concerns over this issue ahead of the international break, with injuries to defenders Joe Gomez, Andy Roberston and captain Jordan Henderson adding to his woes as he prepares to field a second string team in the top of the table clash against Leicester on Sunday.

While clubs appear to be able to control the spread of the virus within their controlled bubbles, allowing players to leave that environment and mix with team mates from other clubs and embark on widespread international travel has been a predictable recipe for disaster.

The chaos inspired Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho to post a sarcastic message on his Instagram feed, as he clearly hinted international football was not sensible during a global pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Premier League has returned 16 positive coronavirus cases from 1,207 players and staff tested last week.

Those who tested positive in the latest round – between Monday, November 9 and Sunday, November 15 – will now self-isolate for 10 days.

The Premier League confirmed the latest figures on Monday evening, but is not naming the clubs or individuals involved.

Such has been the chaotic nature of this latest international break that clubs are certain to put pressure on FIFA to modify their plans for the next break in club football in March, unless a Covid-19 vaccine has had a big impact on the spread of the virus by then.

World Cup qualifiers are due to be staged all over the world in the third month of 2021, yet managers from the game's biggest clubs are now certain to question the merits of international football continuing in this climate.

Germany midfielder Toni Kroos and former Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren are among those who have spoken out against the number of games being played, with the three-game international breaks certain to be a point of discussion heading into the New Year.

International matches will end on Wednesday, but the damage caused by this break looks certain to stretch on for weeks as players recover from injury and self-isolation periods all picked up away from their employers.

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Online Editors