Norwich ‘holding their breath’ over Covid test results ahead of Manchester United clash

Tottenham beat the Canaries last weekend, and have since been hit by a coronarivis outbreak

Jim van Wijk
Friday 10 December 2021 10:39
Dean Smith Norwich unveiling

Norwich City head coach Dean Smith admits the club are “holding their breath” waiting on Covid-19 test results ahead of the Premier League clash against Manchester United at Carrow Road.

Tottenham beat the Canaries 3-0 on Sunday, and have since been hit by a coronavirus outbreak which resulted in Thursday night’s Europa Conference League clash with Rennes being called off while their Premier League trip to Brighton has also been postponed.

Smith feels none of the current concerns within the Norwich squad are linked to the Spurs game, but nevertheless faces an anxious wait to get confirmation if any of his players will be ruled out of the United match because of a positive confirmed PCR result.

“We have got a couple of knocks and have got a couple of Covid-related issues that we are waiting on results for this morning,” Smith said.

“I can’t really let you in on any names, but there’s a couple of players who who we are worried about, so we have tested and we will wait for the PCR results back on them.

“(They are) just feeling a little bit unwell, (but) not likely to be linked to the game last week with Tottenham.

“It is just in general, I think (like) with the whole nation of holding our breaths at the moment.”

Given the rising number of Covid cases driven by the Omicron variant, the Premier League has written to clubs to call for a step up in safety measures.

Smith believes Norwich, who have a high vaccination record within the playing squad, will adapt again as the pandemic takes another uncertain turn.

“They are similar regulations to what we we have had previously, so won’t be too much newness about it from what the lads were doing before, but there’ll be masks inside the building, no prolonged meetings and soft tissue massaging will be kept to a minimum as well,” Smith said.

“It has become part of our lives unfortunately at the moment and hopefully we can soon get rid of it.

“The protocols are there for a reason. If we are following them, then there shouldn’t be too many worries about a spread.”

As well as dealing with potential Covid cases, Norwich will also be without on-loan United defender Brandon Williams against his parent club.

Smith, though, is confident if he has to turn to some of the club’s youngsters to make up the numbers, they will be ready for the challenge.

“I have been a regular watcher of our under-23s already and we have got a good squad there,” Smith said. “If (first-team) players drop out then players get moved up, that is the nature of the beast.

“They have been prepared by (coach) Alan Neilson and his team to be prepared for that situation.”

Smith knows Norwich will face a United squad full of talent such as Cristiano Ronaldo, but wants his own team to have the required focus.

“They play with superstars, we all know that,” said Smith, who masterminded a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in September when manager of Aston Villa.

“Yes, they are a big hitter, but we are in the same league and this league is a very competitive one.

“We will give them plenty of respect, which they deserve, but our players don’t need to be fearful. They need to be ready to go and play the quality of football which we can play.”

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