Saints’ chief expects City clash to go ahead amid coronavirus fears

PUBLISHED: 14:34 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:33 12 March 2020

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl held his pre-match press call on Thursday ahead of a Premier League trip to Norwich City 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl held his pre-match press call on Thursday ahead of a Premier League trip to Norwich City Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is planning for the Saints’ Premier League trip to Norwich City to go ahead, despite the on going fears over the spread of coronavirus.

Hasenhuttl faced the media on Thursday afternoon to preview his side's pending Carrow Road test at Norwich on Saturday.

The Canaries' issued a wide-ranging public advisory note on Wednesday instructing fans planning to attend to take all suitable measures, but reiterated the game would take place.

'The last information I have is that the game goes ahead. I am focusing on that,' said Hasenhuttl. 'With or without supporters, that is something I am sure will be assessed on a day to day basis. The latest information is it looks like we have a normal game this weekend.

'So as much as possible we have to focus on this game. Train every day normally. Try to avoid too much social contact. We will do everything we can to minimise the risk and await further information. There is more important things to focus on than football at the moment, and that is hard for the players to bring the focus to the pitch.

'The good thing is if you are training then you forget a little bit what happens in the moment. The atmosphere is good. You can follow all over the world the problems with the spread of this virus.

'It would not be the same sport (behind-closed-doors). It feels more like a training ground or something like that but if it was a case we could finish the league by playing games this way then it would help the competition. I think the international break is important. All we have to do is make sure the virus is not spreading so quickly. That is the goal. If it helps to play without supporters, or anything else, then we have to do it. This is the most important thing. Anything else isn't.'

Former Norwich City midfielder Nathan Redmond (groin) remains on the sidelines. Moussa Djenepo begins a three-match but Stuart Armstrong is back after concussion.

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, confirmed at his own pre-match press call three of the Foxes' squad have now started the process of self-isolation.

'We've had a few players that have shown symptoms and signs (of coronavirus). We've followed procedures and (as a precaution) they have been kept away from the squad,' he said.

'We have a fantastic medical team here at the club that gives guidance to the players and staff and everyone. It's been made pretty clear about what we should look out for.'

Other Premier League managers have also given their take on the global pandemic and it's potential impact on the game in England, when they held pre-match press calls on Thursday.

'We are preparing for the game as usual, and we just have to wait for advice from far brighter minds than mine on the way forward,' said Burnley boss, Sean Dyche at his pre-match press briefing on Thursday. 'I know where football fits into my life and if this (virus) is deemed serious enough, then the health of everyone is far more important.'

Blades' boss Chris Wilder has had his say on the prospect of games potentially being played behind closed doors

'The game is nothing without the supporters, we all do it for a reason and that reason is to get that buzz playing in front of our supporters,' he said. 'For me a delay, an extension to the season would be my preferred option.'

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