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Pep Guardiola tests positive for COVID-19: Who will replace Man City boss for Swindon FA Cup match?


Pep Guardiola will miss Manchester City’s FA Cup match with Swindon Town after becoming the latest Premier League manager to test positive for COVID-19. The match is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. ET.

A total of seven players and 14 backroom staff from within the first-team bubble are in self-isolation, including Guardiola and his assistant Juanma Lillo, according to an official release from the club. The short release did not given an update on the extent Guardiola’s symptoms, or the identity of any players testing positive.

Former Liverpool coach Rodolfo Borrell will take charge of City’s third-round trip to League Two Swindon with the game set to go ahead at this stage, along with the Premier League clash with Chelsea on January 15.

Who is Rodolfo Borrell?

Former Liverpool academy coach Rodolfo Borrell will be in the dugout for the trip to Swindon. The 50-year-old joined the club in 2014 and became a part of Guardiola’s coaching unit when the Catalan took over two years later.

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After spending 13 years working in Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, Borrell has a reputation for helping to nurture young talent having worked with players such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Raheem Sterling at a young age. He worked with Barcelona youth from 1995-2009 before joining Liverpool for five years, eventually rising to academy technical director in 2012. He made the switch to Man CIty in 2014, first as academy technical director and then moving to the first team in 2016 when Guardiola arrived.

He is one of Guardiola’s most trusted lieutenants, having remained a part of his coaching group throughout his time at the club, while former assistants Domenec Torrent and Mikel Arteta moved to New York City FC and Arsenal respectively.

Borrell helped Phil Foden’s transition from the club’s academy into the first team and could be crucial in settling what is likely to be a young squad that travels to Swindon as they aim to win the FA Cup for only the second time in 10 years. He has also overseen the first-team assimilation of recent Man City academy graduate Cole Palmer who has broken into the first team this season with four Premier League appearances in midfield. Barring involvement in the COVID-19 outbreak, Palmer could be involved in the Swindon match.

Who many games will Pep Guardiola miss?

After Man City confirmed Guardiola would miss the tie against Swindon due to a positive COVID-19 test, it’s difficult to ascertain exactly how many further matches he’ll be unavailable for.

The mandatory isolation period in England has reduced from 10 days to seven, meaning in theory, the City boss would be available to return to the dugout for the clash with Chelsea on January 15. That, however, does not take into consideration if Guardiola’s symptoms were to worsen and/or if he returns a further positive test at a later date.

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Man City currently does not have any games needing makeup for prior COVID-19 cancellations that could be added to the schedule in the near future. Only City and Chelsea have played the full 21 Premier League games to this point, with the other 18 Premier League clubs all seeing at least one match postponed, and many with multiple games to make up.

How bad is Man City’s COVID-19 outbreak?

City confirmed there had been a major COVID-19 outbreak at the club on January 6, with the game against Swindon scheduled to be played on Friday evening. That match will go ahead, despite Guardiola and Lillo having both tested positive.

The club also confirmed that 14 backroom staff and seven first-team players are isolating due to COVID-related reasons, with a number of young players now set to take to the pitch at the County Ground.

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It remains to be seen how the situation will affect City’s Premier League plans, with games against Chelsea, in nine days, and Southampton to follow before February.

While the status of the current outbreak is unknown with regards to who has been afflicted, it is known that both Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko are dealing with positive tests, with that information revealed days before this round of positives by various journalists. It’s unclear when they tested positive, but the club did confirm that both are “short of full-team fitness” prior to Man City’s last match against Arsenal on New Year’s Day.

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