Ipswich Town set to start 2021 at Fleetwood - but game could be moved to next Tuesday
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town are still set to start 2021 with an away game at Fleetwood, though the League One clash, currently scheduled for Saturday, may yet get pushed back to next Tuesday.
The Blues saw their final three games of 2020 - Peterborough (a), Northampton (h) and AFC Wimbledon (a) - postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak at the club which saw eight first team players and three members of staff, including manager Paul Lambert, test positive in the space of a week.
Two further players have also been self-isolating as they live with someone who has tested positive, while another who tested negative has been not feeling well. And with the club already having 10 senior players out injured (just one of whom is among those who tested positive), it left only a handful of players able to train on an individual basis over the Christmas period while the Playford Road training base underwent a deep clean.
The four players who initially tested positive for the virus on Friday, December 18 have now served their 10-day self isolation period. They were assessed medically today and will take part in training tomorrow. The player who tested positive on Monday, December 21 wouldn't be able to return to training until Thursday at the earliest, while the two who tested positive on Wednesday, December 23 won't be out of self isolation until Saturday.
It's understood that Ipswich, because of all of the above, were initially keen to push the Fleetwood game further down the road, but they are fearful that taking the decision to call the game off could lead to a points deduction if the EFL subsequently ruled that they were able to fulfil the fixture.
A compromise solution has been discussed with both the EFL and Fleetwood about playing the game next Tuesday instead, giving the Town players returning from the virus extra time to get up to speed.
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Ipswich are now weighing up whether the pros of having an few extra days to prepare for Fleetwood, and having one or two extra players available, outweigh the cons of then getting back from Lancashire in the early hours of Wednesday morning and having less time to prepare for next Saturday's home clash with Swindon.
It's understood that both Lambert and general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill have been laid low by the virus, but that all the players who have had it are feeling fine and are keen to get playing again as soon as possible.
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A decision is set to be made in the next 24-48 hours, once the club has assessed how the players have trained and responded to training.
Seven of tonight's 12 League One games are off due to Covid-19, with Blues boss Lambert and physio Matt Byard both suggesting a 'circuit breaker' would be a good idea during a rapid rise in coronavirus cases nationally.