Man Utd-Stoke Friendly Cancelled After Michael O’Neill Tests Positive for COVID-19

    Michael O’Neill had returned previously returned five negative COVID-19 tests | Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

    Manchester United were forced to cancel their friendly with Stoke City at the last minute after Potters manager Michael O’Neill tested positive for coronavirus.

    The two teams were set to play at United’s AON training complex, but the game was scrapped moments before kick off after Stoke received the results of their latest round of COVID-19 testing.

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    United and Stoke looked set to play a friendly in order to regain fitness | Michael Regan/Getty Images

    It was initially unknown who had returned the positive test, with the Telegraph breaking the news that the game had been called off. But Stoke have subsequently taken to their official website to confirm that it’s O’Neill, not one of the players, who has tested positive, and he will now self-isolate for 14 days, missing Stoke’s Championship return match against Reading.

    “Stoke City can confirm that manager Michael O’Neill has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus following the latest round of testing on Monday (June 8),” the club’s statement read.

    “O’Neill had tested negative in the previous five rounds of testing. He will now follow the relevant guidance and undergo a period of isolation, whilst continuing to be in regular virtual contact with his coaching staff and players.

    “Assistant manager Billy McKinlay will take charge of training as the Potters prepare for their game against Reading on June 20. The club will be making no further comment on this matter.”

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    United played at Old Trafford in a training game for the first time since early March | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

    In a bid to gain match fitness ahead of the return of English football this month, Premier League and Championship clubs have been organising warm-up matches behind closed doors to get up to speed.

    United, not wanting to waste the day, subsequently split into teams again and played a warm-up match amongst themselves as Stoke left the training ground, with a number of players once again posting images from training on social media.

    Stoke’s players and staff, meanwhile, had to individually drive up to United’s training ground for the friendly, as per social distancing guidelines, before all having to leave again at around midday after the game was called off.

    O’Neill’s positive test is the third case to be confirmed from over 1,179 Championship players and club staff who were tested.

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