Arsenal cancel trip as Newcastle United 'patiently' wait on Joe Willock decision

Arsenal’s pre-season trip to the USA has been called off due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 9:39 am

The club was due to travel across the Atlantic this week to compete in the Florida Cup along with Everton – and Newcastle United fans had been waiting to see whether midfield target Joe Willock was going to be named in Mikel Arteta’s touring party.

However, the trip was cancelled after a “small number” of unnamed players have tested positive for coronavirus.

An Arsenal statement read: “Following a small number of positive Covid tests among the planned party to travel to America tomorrow, we have sadly been forced to withdraw from the Florida Cup.

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Joe Willock and Steve Bruce at Craven Cottage last season.

“This difficult decision is based on ensuring the health and well-being of our players and staff.

“We fully understand what a disappointment this is for our supporters in America, who were looking forward to seeing us compete in the Florida Cup as part of our pre-season build-up.

“Our apologies also go to the organisers of the Florida Cup – who had done a fantastic job making the preparations – and our partners, who had arranged events around our participation in the competition.”

Newcastle have held talks with Arsenal over a move for 21-year-old Willock, who had a successful half-season loan at St James’s Park last season.

The club had been hoping to come to an agreement for a season-long loan before the USA trip. Willock scored eight Premier League goals for United last season after joining in January’s transfer window.

Speaking after Sunday’s defeat to York City, Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce said: "Nothing's really changed on that (Willock).

"I knew from the end of last season that Arsenal would gather him in, see what they get in themselves, judge him on pre-season, whatever. It's Arsenal's call, really.

"We've got to be patient, I understand, but obviously there comes a time when we've got to make a decision for us. We're very, very short in the middle of the park at the minute. Very, very short. It's something we need to address."

Meanwhile, United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey is sidelined with a calf injury.

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