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Leyton Orient's Carabao Cup tie with Spurs in doubt after positive Covid tests
21 September 2020, 15:36
Leyton Orient's Carabao Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur is in doubt after several players at the League Two club tested positive for Covid-19.
The Sky Bet League Two club were due to host the north London Premier League side in the third round on Tuesday night.
However, following a number of positive coronavirus tests among players, the O's have temporarily closed their Breyer Group Stadium and training ground and will make a further announcement in the near future.
A club statement from Orient read: "Following our game on Saturday 19th September, Covid-19 testing was conducted on all of our first-team playing squad.
"Today (Monday 21st) we received formal confirmation which shows that a number of our first-team squad have tested positive for Covid-19.
"We have informed the EFL and Tottenham Hotspur and will make a further announcement regarding Tuesday's match shortly."
Club statement: Covid-19— Leyton Orient (@leytonorientfc) September 21, 2020
We have received formal confirmation that a number of our first-team squad have tested positive for COVID-19.
Read more: https://t.co/3lhR7C8vRU
English Football League (EFL) clubs are no longer required to conduct mandatory coronavirus tests on their players and staff on a weekly basis this season, as is still the case in the Premier League.
However, ahead of the midweek cup-tie, Spurs paid for Orient to test their squad and staff, the Press Association (PA) news agency understands.
The Orient statement continued: "We have also informed Mansfield Town, Plymouth Argyle and Oldham Athletic, our three most recent opponents, prior to the public release of this information.
"Leyton Orient's priority is the health and well-being of its players and staff. Those who have tested positive will now strictly follow government self-isolation guidelines.
"The Breyer Group Stadium and training ground facilities will be closed until further notice."
In response to the O's statement, Plymouth said they had arranged a "precautionary round of Covid-19 testing" ahead of their match with Shrewsbury on Saturday, adding that "no members of the squad or football staff" are currently experiencing symptoms.
It is understood that there is no protocol in the EFL competition regulations for this situation, in terms of whether the match should be forfeited or rescheduled.
The EFL said it was awaiting results of discussions between club medics and Public Health England (PHE) before deciding whether the game could go ahead.
It said in a statement: "The EFL has been made aware of positive test results recorded at Leyton Orient and is currently awaiting the outcome of discussions between the club and Public Health England which will determine what, if any, action is required outside of adhering to current protocols and guidance."
Orient's boss Ross Embleton was set to hold a press conference on Zoom at 3pm to preview the fixture against Spurs, but that has now been cancelled.
Argyle said in a statement: "Although there is no competition requirement to do so, Plymouth Argyle FC has made arrangements to undertake a precautionary round of Covid-19 testing ahead of Saturday's game against Shrewsbury Town, having received confirmation that a number of Leyton Orient players have tested positive for coronavirus.
"At the time of writing, no members of the squad or football staff are experiencing any symptoms. As is consistent with government guidance, any member of staff who tests positive or begins to experience symptoms will be required to self-isolate.
"There will be no further comment."
The cup tie with Tottenham was an emotional fixture for the two clubs given the connection of the late Justin Edinburgh, who died last June at the age of 49 following a cardiac arrest.
Edinburgh won the FA Cup and League Cup at Spurs before he turned his hand to management and guided the O's to the Vanarama National League title in April 2019.
Given Tottenham's packed fixture schedule, with a Europa League tie on Thursday in Macedonia and potentially another next week if they triumph at Shkendija, the Premier League side have little wriggle room to rearrange the Carabao Cup third-round tie.
The fourth round of the tournament is due to take place the week commencing 28 September, with the winner of the Breyer Group Stadium clash drawn to host Chelsea or Barnsley.