Derby County to field youth players at Chorley after Covid outbreak


Wayne Rooney and Derby’s entire first-team squad will miss the FA Cup tie at Chorley on Saturday following the coronavirus outbreak which has closed their training ground.

It is understood Derby will field a team of under-23 and under-18 players. FA Cup rules state that clubs are expected to fulfil their fixtures if they have 14 eligible players available – including from the under-23 and under-18 squads – though there is scope for appeal.

A number of first-team players and staff returned positive tests for Covid-19 on Monday, with the club’s training facilities subsequently closed. The fixture at Victory Park has been selected for live TV coverage and is scheduled to kick-off at 12.15pm GMT.

Derby’s academy director, Darren Wassall, is expected to take charge and may be without several members of the under-23 squad who have trained with the first team in recent days.

The development increases the chances of the National League North side causing an upset but their manager, Jamie Vermiglio, had hoped Rooney and the first-team squad would be there.

“We want to see Wayne Rooney walk into Victory Park,” Vermiglio said before the news was confirmed. “We want to be able to shake his hand, or fist pump or elbow bump. Even though it would disadvantage us if he were here, it would give the occasion a little bit more merit. The last thing we want is to be playing against an under-18 side. It’s our chance to shine against good players.”

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury have confirmed several players and staff members have tested positive for Covid-19. The League One side are due to travel to Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday.

The Professional Footballer’s Association has called on players to “follow the lockdown rules, without exception” after several incidents over the festive period, and has agreed to fund twice-weekly Covid testing for EFL clubs from Monday. A number of clubs had called for the players’ union to stump up the approximately £5m needed amid concerns for welfare and a raft of postponements.

The PFA’s chief executive, Gordon Taylor, said the testing would “help support clubs and be an important factor in maintaining fixtures and ensuring that football can continue”.

On Wednesday the union wrote to members: “Players must continue to take the lead and act responsibly and professionally … Your compliance with the national restrictions sets the right example to millions of fans and young people.”

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