Football

England v Iceland could be played in Albania if Covid rules out Wembley


England’s Nations League match against Iceland next Wednesday could be played in Albania or Germany after the Football Association held emergency talks with the government on Monday to decide whether the game can go ahead at Wembley.

Travel restrictions introduced over the weekend relating to a mutation of coronavirus discovered in Denmark mean Iceland, who are due to face Denmark in Copenhagen three days before the game with England, could be denied entry to the UK owing to concerns over a strain of Covid-19 that has been transmitted from mink to humans.

The FA is understood to have discussed the problem with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is pressing for a swift decision with the match nine days away. In August, Uefa announced that four countries – Poland, Hungary, Greece and Cyprus – had offered to step in should Covid-19 travel restrictions prevent matches from being played at their original venues. With all four alternatives having steep rises in new cases in recent weeks, Albania has emerged as the frontrunner to host England for their final game in Group Two after they play Belgium in Brussels on Sunday.

Albania has recorded 571 deaths from coronavirus, although it did report more than 500 new cases in a single day on Sunday – the highest recorded in the country but significantly less than the 20,572 registered in the UK on the same day. A number of FA officials, however, are believed be weighing up Germany as a potential venue.

Government guidelines state no exemptions will be made to the new quarantine policy for Denmark, with Premier League sides yet to decide whether to release Danish players – including Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg of Tottenham – to join the Denmark squad this week.

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Players travelling to Denmark would be required to isolate for 14 days on their return and would miss Premier League matches as a result.

The FA has already been forced to cancel England friendlies with New Zealand and its subsequently chosen replacement nation, Australia, at Wembley because of coronavirus quarantine regulations. England play the Republic of Ireland in a friendly at Wembley on Thursday.



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