Newcastle United are fearing the worst over a possible mass breakout of the coronavirus throughout their squad, after the discovery of two new cases took their total tally up to five positive results.
Two players and a staff member were originally forced to self-isolate last week, but there are concerns that those positive results had been unearthed too late, allowing the trio to spread the virus to others at the club.
And The Telegraph reports that Newcastle are facing the real possibility of receiving even more positive tests over the next 48 hours, ahead of the latest round of testing. There are fears that the virus had surfaced on the training ground before being caught, and could have been passed among the players.
The coronavirus spreads extremely rapidly, and if the players have all spent time in an indoor-area in close proximity, then the likelihood is that more than just the five positive cases may be unearthed.
This will come as a damaging blow to Newcastle coach Steve Bruce, who is already working within the restrictions of an injury-ravaged squad. The Magpies have made a solid if incredibly unspectacular start to the new campaign, sitting 13th in the Premier League table.
Bruce’s men picked up an important 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Friday evening, with late goals from Callum Wilson and Joelinton clinching all three points for the unadventurous Magpies.
Newcastle have had to deal with a number of injuries across the pitch, and resorted to playing defender Federico Fernandez in midfield due to a lack of alternatives. A COVID outbreak throughout the team would severely hamstring Bruce in that case, leaving him with even fewer options than he already possesses.
The Premier League side travel to the Midlands next to take on Aston Villa, before welcoming West Bromwich Albion to St James’ Park.