Eddie Howe reveals view on a Premier League suspension ahead of Newcastle United's home game against Manchester City
Five of the weekend’s scheduled fixtures have already been postponed, and Brentford head coach Thomas Frank has called for a brief suspension after his team’s fixture against Southampton was called off.
“We think we should postpone the full round of Premier League games this weekend,” said Frank, who is without 13 players due to Covid-19.
“Covid cases are going through the roof at all Premier League clubs, everyone’s dealing with it and having problems.
“To postpone this round, and also the Carabao Cup round, would give everyone a week at least, or four or five days to clean and do everything at the training ground so everything is clean and you break the chain.”
Relegation-threatened Newcastle’s game against champions Manchester City at St James’s Park on Sunday is still scheduled to go ahead.
And Howe was asked about Frank’s comments after last night’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.
“I think the key thing for me, just my opinion, is that I don’t want half the games played and half the games not played,” said Howe.
“I think the league loses something if it becomes disjointed in terms of the number of games played.
"A decision needs to be made for the benefit of the league to make sure there’s integrity of the competition. That would be my view on it. I don’t think we can have half the games played and half the games not played.”
Asked about the situation facing the Premier League, Howe went on: “When you start losing players to Covid, the worry for me is that the competition becomes slightly unfair.
"I don’t think anyone wants to see that,” said Howe. “People want to see a fair league. They don’t want to see disparity in games, players missing.
"I know we all want the programme to continue, I’m desperate to continue the programme myself, but I do think the welfare of the players and supporters has to come first.
"The people in charge of the Premier League will do that. It’s not an easy decision to make.
"I’m well aware how complex everything is. We’ll follow the guidelines we’ve been given.”
Howe wouldn’t be drawn on the vaccination status of his squad after it was revealed that 25% of EFL players “do not intend to get the vaccine".
A statement from the EFL said: "The latest vaccine data collated for November has shown that 75% of players across the EFL are either fully vaccinated, have had a single jab or intend to be vaccinated.
"Double-vaccinated players total 59%, 16% are set to get the jab, while 25% of players currently do not intend to get a vaccine."
Howe said: “I can’t go into that. I’m not going to talk about people’s medical history, and what they’ve decided to do.”
Asked how many players would be getting booster jabs, recommended to combat the Omicron variant of Covid-19, Howe said: “We’re following the guidelines, and trying to make sure everyone stays fit and healthy.”