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Dele misses Spurs-Palace, England vs. Brazil, Germany

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Dele Alli‘s surprise omission from the Tottenham Hotspur 18 for Sunday’s match against Crystal Palace is a blow for England as well.

Multiple reports say Dele will miss the Three Lions’ high-profile friendlies against Brazil and Germany during the international break. A replacement is yet to be announced by Gareth Southgate.

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The 21-year-old has a hamstring injury, short-circuiting a fine return to form which saw him score twice against Real Madrid at midweek.

Dele has three Premier League goals this season and four more in other competitions, and has two assists in his last four caps for England. He has two goals in 22 caps all-time.

FA Cup schedule released

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The schedule for the 2019-20 FA Cup has been released with the quarterfinals, semifinals and final now having dates.

All eight teams left in the competition are from the Premier League and FA Cup quarterfinal and semifinal games will be played at weekends and see their respective PL games rescheduled for makeup dates. The Premier League has confirmed it will return from June 17 and the FA Cup will now restart just 10 days later.

The quarterfinals will take place in late June, the semifinals in mid-July and then the final will be on August 1. This decision then allows Premier League clubs still in European action to play in the Champions League and Europa League in August, when UEFA are planning to host those competitions.

In the quarters Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United all face tricky away trips to Leicester, Newcastle, Sheffield United and Norwich respectively. It has not been confirmed whether or not the semifinals and final will be played at Wembley Stadium, as usual.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham revealed that the new dates are dependent on safety measures being met.

“The health and wellbeing of players, staff and supporters remains our priority. The competition has been an integral part of the English football calendar for nearly 150 years, and we would like to thank the Premier League executive and clubs for their support in scheduling the remaining matches during this unprecedented time,” Bullingham said.

With so much focus on the Premier League restart, the FA Cup almost became an afterthought but it will carry on and the oldest knockout competition in the world will continue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Below is the FA Cup schedule with the planned dates to play the remaining games.

Quarterfinals – June 27-28

Leicester City v Chelsea
Newcastle United v Manchester City
Sheffield United v Arsenal
Norwich City v Manchester United

Semifinals – July 18-19

Final – August 1

Brendan Rodgers reveals he had COVID-19

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Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed he had COVID-19 and has recovered fully from the coronavirus.

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The Premier League manager spoke to BBC Radio Leicester and revealed that he contracted COVID-19 in March and has recovered fully.

“Me and my wife had it just after [the season] broke up. A week later I really started to struggle, I had no smell and no taste. I had no strength, and I really struggled, and my wife was the same as well. I got tested and we both had it. I could hardly walk,” Rodgers said. “It reminded me of climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro, as you climb higher you get more breathless. Walking 10 yards felt very different. I went for a run, and I just couldn’t do it. I felt really weak, had no real appetite, and had a weird sensation for three weeks of having no taste”.

Brendan Rodgers is the second Premier League managed confirmed to have had COVID-19, as Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tested positive back on March 12, just before the season was suspended.

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All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, with contact training now allowed after a return to small-group training was a success.

The third round of COVID-19 testing saw a slight rise in positive tests compared to the last, as a total of 2,752 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out on Premier League players and staff with a total of 12 positive results. All 20 Premier League clubs have agreed to return to contact training in stage two of the ‘Project Restart’ plan.

The 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17, the league confirmed Thursday, as ‘Project Restart’ is all systems go.

The Premier League held in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs and, among other matters, June 17 emerged as the date games will return. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining.

Premier League reveal update on neutral stadium plan

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The Premier League have issued an update on the plan to use a neutral stadium for certain games when they restart the 2019-20 season from June 17.

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Police in the UK are concerned about fans congregating outside home stadiums for certain high-profile matches and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has said talks are ongoing with the authorities about which games may have to be played at neutral stadiums.

Speaking to our partners in the UK, Sky Sports, Masters hopes to have more clarity on the situation in the next 7-10 days.

“Obviously it is our preference to play the games as they were originally planned, at home and away,” Masters said. “We are in discussions with the authorities, there are some concerns and we are working through that. I think that in the next 7-10 days we will have a clearer picture as to whether any of our fixtures are going to have to be played in neutral venues. We hope the number is going to be low.”

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A further statement from the Premier League confirmed that they are “working with our clubs to ensure risks are assessed and minimised, while cooperating with the police at a local and national level” and said talks with police forces “have been positive and are continuing” while they are “prepared for all outcomes and have a neutral-venue contingency.”

Masters didn’t want to reveal the identity of games which could be moved to neutral stadiums but multiple reports claim that most of Liverpool’s games, home and away, could be played at neutral stadiums due to fears over fans congregating ahead of a possible title-winning situation.

The Premier League chief executive added that Liverpool’s games at Anfield are part of the discussion but said no decision has been made on any neutral stadium games so far: “Ultimately we want the season to be played out on the pitch and we are discussing a number of mitigating factors as part of the whole model and try and keep it as fair as it possibly can be. That is what we are trying to deal with.”

Masters has handled this extremely tough situation with poise throughout negotiations with the clubs, players and government and the Premier League should be applauded for taking their time to work through all of this, while still remaining as close as possible to their mid-June deadline to restart.

Via the BBC, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts has revealed that six games could be moved due to concerns over crowds congregating but said nothing has been confirmed.

“The majority of remaining matches will be played, at home and away as scheduled, with a small number of fixtures taking place at neutral venues, which, contrary to some reports, have yet to be agreed,” Roberts said. “The views and agreement of forces which host Premier League clubs have been sought and where there were concerns, the Premier League has been supportive in providing flexibility in arranging alternative venues where requested. This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines, and not to attend or gather outside the stadiums.”

Simply put, there are still quite a few things to work out between now and June 17 when the Premier League is set to restart and if a few games have to be played at neutral stadiums to ensure the safety of players, staff and the general public, then that is surely a very small part of this mammoth undertaking to ensure the 2019-20 season is finished.

LASK Linz loses Austrian league lead for team training

LASK docked points
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LINZ, Austria — Austrian league leader LASK Linz has been deducted six points for conducting team training sessions in violation of pandemic restrictions, a decision that could have a big impact on the title race.

The points deduction means LASK slipped from first place to second, three points behind defending champion Salzburg. There are 10 rounds left to play in the Austrian Bundesliga, which is due to resume on June 2.

The Austrian soccer league said Thursday its also fined the club 75,000 euros ($83,000) for breaking “the basic idea of fair play.”

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LASK said it will appeal the verdict.

The proceedings against LASK were started on May 14, when videos were shown to the league of the team training together instead of in small groups as permitted.

The club later acknowledged it held four team training sessions. Both LASK coach Valérien Ismaël and vice-president Jürgen Werner apologized during a press conference.

LASK has 14 days to lodge its appeal.