Sheffield United's Chris Wilder reveals the full extent of the Covid-19 disruption his team has faced

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has refused to add his voice to the growing call for the Premier League to pause its fixture programme, despite describing the latest wave of the Covid-19 pandemic as “sobering”.

Thursday, 31st December 2020, 2:59 pm

United returned a number of positive results during a round of testing earlier this week, with those members of Wilder’s playing and backroom staffs who missed Tuesday’s visit to Burnley again set to be absent at Crystal Palace this weekend.

Confirming the scale of the disruption United faced before the meeting with Sean Dyche’s side was much greater than first thought, Wilder said: “We had a situation during the week, as you know, where a couple of the players tested positive and a couple on the morning had to go through Manchester Airport to have tests before Burnley. Fortunately, theft came back negative because otherwise we’d have had a situation. Thankfully they weren’t and we carried on.

“My view on it, is that it’s a different situation to when we first came into the pandemic, and the speed of it has ramped up. It’s changed the situation in the country.

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Sheffield United have reported positive Covid-19 tests: MIKE HEWITT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“As always, we’ll play with a straight bat and do what the Premier League wants us to do. I’m no expert on this, so I’ll leave it up to the Premier League’s medical department and our own experts.”

Wilder, whose side travel to Selhurst Park at the bottom of the table and still without a win this term, was speaking as reports emerged the PL has no plans to impose a circuit break as proposed by West Bromwich Albion’s Sam Allardyce and others.

However, Wilder was clearly concerned by the rise in cases being identified across the country following the emergence of a new and more transmissible strain of the virus. South Yorkshire remained in tier three of England’s social distancing system following the latest government review, while London, where Palace are based, is in the toughest tier four.

“I don’t want to get called into what should or shouldn’t happen,” Wilder said. “I’ll be guided by medical advice, it’s sobering, though. It’s the most challenging period of the pandemic for us, yes.”