Wayne Rooney and Derby’s entire first-team squad will miss Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Chorley following the coronavirus outbreak which has closed their training ground.
It is understood Derby will field a team of under-23 and under-18 players. FA Cup rules state that clubs are expected to fulfil their fixtures if they have 14 eligible players available – including from the under-23 and under-18 squads – though there is scope for appeal.
A number of first-team players and staff returned positive tests for Covid-19 on Monday, with the club’s training facilities subsequently closed. The fixture at Victory Park has been selected for live TV coverage and is scheduled to kick-off at 12.15pm GMT.
Derby’s academy director Darren Wassall is expected to take charge and may be without several members of the under-23 squad who have trained with the first team in recent days.
The development increases the chances of the National League North side causing an upset but their manager, Jamie Vermiglio, had hoped Rooney and the first-team squad would be there.
“From a personal point of view, and the players and the fans, we want to see Wayne Rooney walk into Victory Park,” Vermiglio said before the news was confirmed. “We want to be able to shake his hand, or fist pump or elbow bump.
“Even though it would disadvantage us if he were here, it would give the occasion a little bit more merit. The last thing we want is to be playing against an under-18 side. It’s our chance to shine against good players.”
Meanwhile, Shrewsbury have confirmed several players and staff members have tested positive for Covid-19. The League One side are due to travel to Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday. “In accordance with EFL and government guidelines, all concerned individuals will now enter into a period of self-isolation,” read a club statement.