Gerrard tests positive for Covid as Pep urges fans to wear masks at matches

Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard will miss the club’s next two Premier League games after testing positive for Covid-19.

Gerrard will not be in the dugout for the Boxing Day clash at home to Chelsea or Tuesday’s trip to Leeds.

The club said in a statement: “Aston Villa can confirm head coach Steven Gerrard will be unable to attend our next two Premier League matches with Chelsea and Leeds United as he will be isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.”

Villa’s home game with Burnley last weekend was postponed due to an increased number of positive coronavirus tests among the squad.

The match against Chelsea at Villa Park is one of six Premier League games still currently scheduled to go ahead on Boxing Day.

Meanwhile, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged supporters to wear masks in stadiums to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Under recently-introduced Government Plan B regulations, fans now need to show proof of double vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to attend games.

There has been speculation, however, that the authorities could go further and force games back behind closed doors – as they were during Project Restart and for most of last season – amid surging case numbers in England.

Guardiola, who lost his mother to the virus last year, does not want to see that happen again but does think people could be doing more.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 8, 2020: Liverpool and Manchester City players stand for a minute's silence for Remembrance Sunday before the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by Propaganda)

Asked about the prospect of games being played without fans again, Guardiola said: “I wouldn’t love it.

“You can’t imagine how different it is playing with people than without people. It doesn’t compare.

“In the end we played behind closed doors so the economy of world football would survive, for the broadcasters. Thanks to that, we kept getting our salaries and could play football for the people.

“Hopefully it won’t happen again, but cases are raised all around the world. These people go to the stadiums, and can contaminate.

“There are people in the stadiums who don’t use masks, and that surprises me the most. You walk in the street, you go to the big malls, to places to buy presents for the family and no one uses masks.

“Vaccinations, booster jabs, the people (can) decide – but a part of that has to be social distancing and masks. It’s the best way to protect ourselves, our families and the rest of the people.

“Like this, the restaurants could still be open, and football could go on. I’m not a scientist or a doctor but I trust the doctors and scientists because they know more than I know.

“I want to trust the people who know and they say this is the safest way – take a vaccine. People don’t die when they take a vaccine.

“Wearing a mask is so important, like social distancing and hand sanitisers, so let’s try to do it. Otherwise, it may (come back) again and again and again.”