It would appear that Manchester United’s pre-season friendly match against Preston North End tomorrow was postponed unnecessarily, as the Covid-19 scare among the squad proved to be a false alarm.
The Red Devils were due to play the Lilywhites at Deepdale tomorrow but routine Covid lateral flow testing at Carrington revealed some suspected cases.
The people involved, believed to include a small number of players and staff, immediately isolated and PCR testing was initiated.
However, the club has now issued a statement which reads as follows:
‘After further testing yesterday [Thursday] and today [Friday], we can confirm that there are no positive cases within the first-team group.
‘Following consultation with the Premier League, they are satisfied that all COVID protocols have been followed correctly and the squad can return to training immediately.’
It is unfortunate that the friendly was cancelled as the team’s preparatory schedule for the new season was already very sparse.
Most of the first team squad are only now starting to return from holiday after taking part in either Euro 2020 or the Copa America, leaving just tomorrow’s game and one next Saturday against Everton for them to achieve match fitness before the big kick-off against Leeds on 14th August.
Unless another match can be arranged at short notice, the Everton fixture at Old Trafford will be the only match practice the majority of the squad will have.
This could persuade manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to start the season with some of the players who have starred against Derby County, QPR and Brentford this summer while easing the bigger stars in more gradually.
That, in turn, may also cause some delays in potential loan deals. For example, with Alex Telles injured and Luke Shaw having just one game to achieve fitness, the boss could decide to play Brandon Williams at left back against Leeds, putting any possible loan on hold.