Manchester United stars have been involved in a Covid-19 near miss after a visiting Stoke City official – later confirmed to be manager Michael O’Neill – tested positive before a practice game at Carrington.
The planned match was immediately abandoned with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stars including Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes locked down in another part of the AON training complex unaware of the unfolding drama.
A United spokesperson last night insisted none of their stars came into contact with any of the Stoke players who were immediately forced to leave the site.
The drama happened as O’Neill and his Championship players arrived at Carrington for the match against Solskjaer’s squad.
Strict protocols meant the Stoke players were taken to the Academy building well away from the area where United’s stars were gathering to prepare for the match.
But after arriving, results of tests taken by Stoke’s players and staff on Monday as part of the EFL programme were filtered came through to their medical staff while the Championship side were assembling to play the game.
It’s believed Stoke officials immediately alerted United’s medical team who made sure Solskjaer’s players were held in a safe area.
The match was instantly called off and Stoke quickly left Carrington.
A training ground source said: “United’s players were getting ready for the game but all of a sudden there was chaos as the positive test was confirmed.
“Stoke were rushed out of the Academy very quickly indeed. United’s officials didn’t hang about – they had Stoke out of there really quickly as you’d imagine.
“Fortunately, when they first arrived, Stoke players had been taken to the “bio bubble” area at the Academy building which is where testing of players is usually carried out.
“Because of that they didn’t come into contact or even see any of United’s squad.
“It could have been a scary situation but United’s protocols were absolutely spot on and prevented what could have been a major problem with the season now just days away.”
United had set up the practice game at their training base ahead of their opening match of Project Restart at Tottenham in ten days time.
It’s the first time United have played a visiting at Carrington since they returned to group training.
Solskjaer’s stars played an inter-squad match at Old Trafford last Saturday but playing bussed in opposition may now be reviewed by the club.