Brentford manager Thomas Frank is planning for Tuesday night’s Premier League game against Manchester United to go ahead but wants more clarity over rules regarding Covid-19 postponements.
The fixture has come into question after United reported a small number of positive lateral flow tests within their squad, with the players and staff involved sent home before training on Sunday.
Tottenham saw both their Europa Conference League match against Rennes and their Premier League fixture at Brighton postponed last week after eight players and five staff members tested positive, forcing the close of the training ground.
But other clubs have played through outbreaks, with Brentford themselves having been without star striker Ivan Toney and Jamaica defender Ethan Pinnock since the start of the month, and Frank echoed Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s demand for clearer benchmarks from the Premier League.
“We are planning to play the game,” Frank said. “That’s what we are focusing on. We can’t control anything else.
“I think it needs to be a significant amount of Covid cases before the game can be cancelled but to be fair I’m a little bit in doubt when it is enough.”
The PA news agency understands there is no official threshold for the number of positive cases that would cause a game to be called off.
“It’s a very tricky situation,” Frank added. “I think it’s very important the Premier League and all of us are following normal society rules and restrictions. That’s very important.
“And then if we can make it very clear what the rules are to cancel a game that would be good.”
As the omicron variant contributes to another rise in infection rates and several clubs report problems, there are fears of a difficult winter ahead.
But Frank expressed confidence the Premier League would not face a stoppage as he revealed he expected his squad to receive their booster jabs soon as the rollout is accelerated.
“I am 100 per cent sure the Premier League will continue through the winter,” Frank said. “I have no doubt about that. That’s why we have the vaccine and the boosters. We will continue, no doubt about that.
“Honestly, I’m pretty sure we’re close to giving the players their booster jabs. I don’t know, but I know we have a lot of players vaccinated and we heard on the radio about there soon being one million jabs a day. That’s a lot so I guess that’s also for our players.”
Toney is due out of isolation in time for Tuesday’s game but Frank admitted he was unsure what role his top scorer might be able to play after 10 days without training.
“I’m glad you mention that we’re just missing last year’s top scorer and one of our best centre backs, and we’re playing one of the best clubs in the world,” Frank said with a rueful smile as he joked about taking on Cristiano Ronaldo et al.
“OK, not the best team at the moment but decent players – what’s he called, the number seven?”
United’s interim manager Ralf Rangnick has overseen 1-0 Premier League wins against Crystal Palace and Norwich, as well as a 1-1 Champions League draw against Young Boys involving several changes, since taking over earlier this month.
But Frank said it was a “small sample size” to analyse as he said United would still be adapting, leaving question marks as to what his side will face on Tuesday night.
“I have the biggest respect for Ralf Rangnick, what he has created has been quite remarkable in terms of what he has implemented at different clubs,” he said.
“But Ralf is not a magician and even (Pep) Guardiola or (Jurgen) Klopp would say they needed more than three games to get everything up to 100 per cent.
“They will not be performing the way he wants right now but they still have unbelievable players with so much quality.”