Chelsea have been forced to shut the doors of the academy building at their Cobham training base after no fewer than 20 positive cases of COVID-19 were detected at the club.
The Blues are one of a handful of Premier League sides who extend their COVID-19 testing to the academy and youth sides, and results of tests received on Monday have identified a major outbreak in the building.
That’s according to The Athletic‘s Simon Johnson, who notes that the academy side of Cobham is currently undergoing a deep clean and will remain shut to players and staff until at least the end of the week, when a fresh decision will be made.
Critically, this outbreak is not expected to impact Frank Lampard’s first team. Chelsea have kept their seniors and academy teams in separate bubbles, with players currently not permitted to move between the two buildings without specific permission.
Academy players Jude Soonsup-Bell, Lewis Bate, Henry Lawrence, Tino Livramento and Tino Anjorin were part of Lampard’s senior bubble in the build-up to the FA Cup third round tie with Morecambe, but it is believed that the group swapped bubbles before the outbreak.
Chelsea will obviously continue to test their senior players, but it is hoped that the only fixtures which will be impacted by this will be academy games, with both the Under-23 and Under-18s facing postponement.
The development squad are scheduled to face West Ham on Friday, but that match now seems set to be cancelled, while the Under-18’s meeting with Brighton on Saturday could well follow suit if Chelsea cannot get the situation under control sooner.
Before this outbreak, Chelsea had been relatively fortunate when it comes to COVID-19. Summer signing Kai Havertz tested positive in November and has publicly admitted to still struggling with the after-effects ever since, but that is the only case of the virus the Blues have had thus far.
It’s all a bit doom and gloom, but if you want some good news, Soonsup-Bell confirmed on Twitter that he has put pen to paper on a professional deal at the club.
The 17-year-old striker was chased by a number of European giants, but one day after his birthday, he has committed his future to Chelsea.