Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis with the FA Cup
Manchester City’s request to postpone this weekend’s Women’s Super League match became more urgent on Wednesday, as their player crisis grew with Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle both unavailable due to USA national team duties.
Four City players tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week, after travelling with the club’s permission from Tier 3 to Dubai during the winter break. It is understood to have prompted the club to request the FA push back their match against West Ham this Saturday.
A USA squad announcement on Wednesday made City manager Gareth Taylor’s selection woes worse than previously thought, though. If Saturday’s game goes ahead, he will also be without Lavelle and Mewis, who were confirmed for a USA training camp which runs until January 22.
That leaves him six players short of a full squad for their match in three short days, and without the American duo for two WSL weekends as well as next week’s Continental Cup quarter-final against Chelsea.
In a press conference on Wednesday, USA head coach Vlatko Andonovski said the news would have been "nothing new" to City, as Lavelle and Mewis’ contracts stipulated the possibility of them attending the January camp in the middle of the season.
"I’m in constant communication with Gareth," Andonovski said, "it was not a problem, we all agreed it was a good camp for them to be in."
Meanwhile, Manchester United were bolstered by the news on Wednesday that their American forward Tobin Heath opted out of Andonovski’s training camp to stick with her club duties.
Despite City’s prior knowledge of scheduling for Lavelle and Mewis, the timing of their absence alongside the club’s Covid-19 outbreak could prove pivotal in what is becoming a tight four-club title chase. Fourth-placed City are eight points behind leaders Manchester United, albeit with a game in hand.
Arsenal in second place are managing their own Covid outbreak, following players travelling to Dubai over Christmas.
As reported by Telegraph Sport, they are also understood to have put in a request to the FA for their weekend fixture against Aston Villa to be postponed.
Telegraph Sport understands that, while it is not yet clear if the FA have reached a verdict on either game, both remained set to go ahead as of Wednesday afternoon. Sources have advised that all teams will be expected to fulfill their fixtures unless they cannot field a team.