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Fears for Nations League fixture as Bulgarian players test positive

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Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

There are fresh fears about Bulgaria's ability to host their Nations League match with Ireland in September after it was reported that the start of their new domestic season will be delayed due to a rise in the number of positive tests for Covid-19 among players there.

Stephen Kenny is due to take charge of the senior team for the first time away to Bulgaria on September 3 in the Nations League, with a tie against Finland in Dublin four days later.

The FAI have been in talks with Government departments looking for clarity on the issue of quarantine and isolation as an elite athlete exemption would be needed for Irish players who travel to Sofia to be allowed play against Finland and then return to their clubs without completing a 14-day isolation period. Bulgaria is not on the 15-nation green list for travel for Irish citizens.

Bulgaria still hope to play the Ireland game in Sofia, most likely behind closed doors, though UEFA are monitoring the Covid-19 situation and they retain the right to postpone the game or else order it to be played at a neutral venue, as will happen next week when Champions League and Europa League games are played in Portugal and Germany.

Players from two more clubs in Bulgaria's top flight have tested positive for Covid-19 and there are fears that one of those players who made a summer transfer may have now infected players from his new club, CKSA 1948.

Players and club staff must pass Covid-19 tests by next Monday before the Bulgarian league can resume on Friday week but media outlets in Sofia are reporting that the championship, already delayed by two weeks, may be delayed for another week, a move which would spark worry at UEFA level concerning the Nations League ties.

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