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Manchester City preparing to face Swindon despite Covid outbreak

Leicester City v Manchester City – Premier League – King Power Stadium
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Manchester City are planning as if their FA Cup tie at Swindon will go ahead despite a coronavirus outbreak at the Premier League club.

City currently have 21 members of their “first-team bubble” isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, including manager Pep Guardiola and seven players, following a raft of fresh cases this week.

The high number raises the possibility that Friday’s third-round trip to League Two promotion hopefuls Swindon could be postponed but City are presently still able to field a team.

Assistant coach Rodolfo Borrell, who will take charge of the side in Guardiola’s absence, said: “We have actually prepared mentally for the game.

“We have to prepare for the game to happen and this is what we have done until now and we will keep going this way.

“If it is not possible tomorrow for whatever reason, because there is more news, it is out of our reach to know right now. We are prepared to play the game and mentally we are ready for it.

“At the end of the day, it (will) possibly be one of the easiest line-ups we have to decide because we are going to play with the (players) we have available. We don’t have much more.

City will be without several first-team players at the County Ground

City will be without several first-team players at the County Ground (Barrington Coombs/PA)

“Our aim is to keep playing as much as we can, trying to respect all competitions and trying to keep playing. At this moment we can fill the team.

“We will play with what we have got. We have got some first-team players and some others that are going to come from our second team.”

Borrell, who also took over Guardiola’s media duties ahead of the game, would not identify which senior players had been ruled out.

He said: “This is not for me to say. Without seven players we have to prepare a game and we don’t know if tomorrow more players are going to be unavailable. I don’t want to mention them in case I forget any.”

Swindon will be hoping to produce a shock on Friday

Swindon will be hoping to produce a shock on Friday (Leila Coker/PA)

The disruption at City, which has also affected the under-21 squad, could enhance Swindon’s chances of pulling off a shock but Borrell insists the Robins will still be taken seriously.

The Spaniard, who has previously worked at Liverpool and Barcelona, said: “Listen, you know the better than me this is the oldest national football competition, 150 years old or something like that.

“There is a lot of history where lesser teams or smaller teams beat big opponents because (it is) a competition that creates a great atmosphere and lots of enthusiasm and everyone is trying to make their town or village or city proud.

“There is obviously a difference in quality of players but this is the kind of game where everything gets very close.

“For us it is more important to do well and get into the next stage. I think it is going to be a very close game and we have to be ready for that.”

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