5:30 PM ET
Pep Guardiola fears the March international break could play havoc with Manchester City’s title bid if it brings with it a rise in cases of COVID-19.
City are in pole position in the Premier League table after a run of 16 straight wins in all competitions.
However, Guardiola is concerned the extra travel around international break scheduled between March 22 and March 31 could increase the risk of his players contracting coronavirus and lead to playing games with reduced numbers or fixtures being postponed.
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“The only way to be protected from this virus is to stay at home and don’t move, and social distance, and have no contact and not travel,” Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday.
“Now people are going to travel and players are going to their national teams, it’s difficult enough to control it, so I think something is going to rise, unfortunately.
“I would like to guess or say it’s not going to happen, but from experience it has already happened in two or three waves worldwide. So if you move you take a risk to be contaminated again, to get the virus again.
“I think the Premier League should be concerned about this, all the leagues [should be] concerned.”
City face Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday — a game that should have been played in December after Guardiola’s squad was hit by an outbreak of coronavirus.
After reaching the Carabao Cup final and the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, their schedule between now and the end of the season is already packed and the City boss says adding in more rearranged games does not bear thinking about.
“I try not to look [at the schedule] as I become depressed immediately,” said Guardiola.
“There is many games, one more month and then international break is a bit of a relief for the managers, but for players to go to the national team it will be more difficult but it’s better not to look. Look at the next game and that’s it.”