Rafa Benitez. Picture: Everton FC/ Youtube
Everton’s Boxing Day match at Burnley has been postponed due to the to number of COVID-19 cases in the Toffees’ squad.
Everton had an initial request to postpone the game rejected on Thursday despite manager Rafael Benitez claiming he only had nine fit outfield players.
But on Christmas Eve, the Premier League relented and took the “regrettable” decision to postpone the game following a meeting of its board.
No date has yet been set for the rearranged fixture.
What’s been said
A Premier League statement read:“Everton were due to travel to Turf Moor to play on Sunday, at 3pm.
The Board reviewed the club’s request today to postpone the match following further injuries to their squad.
“They concluded that the club will not be able to fulfil their fixture this weekend as a result of an insufficient number of players available to play due to COVD-19 cases and injuries.
“The Board this morning was able to make its decision in advance of Boxing Day to give clarity to clubs and their fans. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to those supporters’ festive plans.”
Covid cases in the Premier League are at an all-time high.
Everton’s fixture against Leicester City last weekend was postponed for that reason, while they were missing several player for the trip to Chelsea.
The Toffees continue to have cases in the camp, with Benitez revealing on Thursday only nine senior outfield players were available ahead of the Turfmoor clash.
Speaking before the Premier League’s u-turn, he said: “I’m really surprised the game is going on because of all the cases we have and injuries.
“I’d like to explain if some people don’t realise. We follow all the rules, do the lateral flows, PCRs, masks and three dressings rooms but we can’t control it if a player goes to a game and has no symptoms.
“That’s what happened the other day against Chelsea. We had to play some young players then found we had five positive cases.
“We expected the game to be postponed and keep the integrity of the league.
“They talk about the numbers. At the moment, we have nine outfield players available and then three keepers. We have to bring in five young players.
“The reality is that some of these players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin have been out for two months.
“Some of these players have knocks and we have to push them. They are not fit and who will take responsibility if something happens?”
Postponed Boxing Day fixtures
Liverpool v Leeds
Wolves v Watford
Burnley v Everton