Lack of Covid-19 testing in Football League concerns Newcastle boss Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce has admitted his concern at the withdrawal of mandatory coronavirus testing for Football League clubs ahead of Newcastle’s Carabao Cup third round trip to Morecambe.

The Magpies, like all Premier League sides, have been operating in a bubble since their return in pre-season.

However after Sunday’s league clash with Brighton, will start preparations for their visit to Sky Bet League Two Morecambe with other top flight clubs having reportedly offered to pay for tests for their opponents following the relaxation of restrictions in the lower divisions.

Bruce, who was speaking on Friday hours after tougher rules were reintroduced in large parts of the north east, said: “Of course it’s a concern.

“It’s a concern for the whole of the north east at the moment. We always seem to get it tough up here, don’t we, more than anybody else? It’s something that the whole of the north east, I’m sure, will come together with and beat this thing.

“When it comes down to our own individual bubble, I think we are the fortunate ones. We’re tested twice a week, but further down the pyramid, it’s not the case and we travel to Morecambe next week with that possibility.

“We’re all living in a world now where we feel very, very privileged and very secure in the environment we’re in. How lucky are we when the rest of the north east in particular is finding it tough?

“There are tough weeks ahead for everybody concerned, so we will have to make sure we observe the rules and try to get back on track again.

“The football, if that gives people a bit of relief then all well and good. Yes, it is a concern when you play the lower league, but we’d rather be playing football than not.”

Bruce revealed there have been no discussions to date about funding testing for the Shrimps’ players and staff.

In the meantime, he will concentrate on the task of building upon back-to-back victories over West Ham and Blackburn behind closed doors at St James’ on Sunday, 24 hours after neighbours Middlesbrough, whose manage Neil Warnock and one unnamed player are self-isolating after positives tests, welcome 1,000 spectators to the Riverside Stadium for their Championship clash with Bournemouth as part of a pilot scheme.

Bruce said: “If we ever need reminding of what the game of football is all about, it’s the lack of supporters at the moment. It’s just not the same. This pilot scheme is a start.”