Entire Sunderland squad told to isolate and warned to stick to strict rules as Christmas effectively cancelled

Sunderland’s entire first team squad has been told to isolate and warned they must adhere to strict guidelines as the club continues to battle an outbreak of Covid-19.

Friday, 18th December 2020, 12:30 pm

The Black Cats confirmed on Wednesday that they would be closing the Academy of Light with immediate effect for 10 days after a total of five positive cases were recorded.

As a result, the Wearsiders have had their next three matches postponed, and will no longer play Shrewsbury Town away this weekend or Blackpool and Hull City at home next week over the festive period.

Lee Johnson’s squad will return to training on December 27 ahead of the Accrington Stanley game two days later.

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Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson.
Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson.

Because of the nature of the outbreak, all players will be required to isolate for a period of 10 days, regardless of whether or not they are displaying symptoms.

That time frame will include Christmas Day itself, and is likely to disrupt plans for many associated with the squad.

The Echo also understands that a meeting was held with the squad via Zoom on Thursday urging them to follow isolation regulations to the letter and reminding them of their responsibilities.

The Black Cats made headlines earlier in the week after they controversially played out a 1-1 draw against AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night, despite having eight senior players absent as a consequence of the outbreak.

At that stage there was one confirmed case and a further seven players self-isolating. Further tests recorded another four positive tests and the decision was taken to close the training ground and postpone the next three games.

Sunderland were dissatisfied with the AFC Wimbledon fixture going ahead, but the EFL insisted that the club had been given the opportunity to call it off with the caveat that an investigation would be launched and there could be possible sanctions that followed.

Sunderland are expected to be back in action against Accrington Stanley on Tuesday December 29th, with a trip to Northampton Town scheduled for the following Saturday.

Speaking earlier this week, the club's CEO, Jim Rodwell said it was the 'responsible decision' to close the Academy of Light for the next 10 days.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have informed the EFL that we are unable to play our next three league fixtures," he said.

"The welfare of our players, staff and opponents remains the number one priority and following detailed conversations with the relevant authorities, we have also taken the responsible decision to close the Academy of Light for a 10-day period.

"On behalf of everyone at the club, I wish all of those affected a swift and complete recovery.”

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