FA waiting on government advice over England vs Italy friendly amid coronavirus outbreak

james olley, Simon Collings
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The FA are waiting on government advice before deciding whether to review the viability of next month’s England friendly against Italy amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy now has more than 400 cases of the virus, with authorities in the country reporting 12 deaths.

It is understood the FA have held an internal meeting over the situation but are deferring to official guidelines, with No10 presently keen on guarding against over-reaction.

As a result, there are no special measures planned, with the March 27 fixture still a month away. Wembley is due to host several Euro 2020 matches, including the semi-finals and final, but that tournament comes under Uefa’s jurisdiction and is not yet considered at risk.

Any complications next month could be of significant disruption to Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 planning, however, as the England boss has just two matches — the other currently scheduled for March 31 against Denmark — to finalise his thoughts prior to naming his squad for the Championship.

England face Austria and Romania in early June, but Southgate is expected to announce his travelling party towards the end of May.

England’s partially sighted team are due to play in Italy next month, but it is uncertain at this stage whether that game will be affected.

Euro 2020 is due to be held in 12 cities across 12 countries and the format could pose problems due to the potential spread of the virus as thousands of fans travel cross-continent.

Uefa are still working to the current timetable, with Italy kicking off the tournament against Turkey in Rome on June 12.

Champions League and Europa League matches are under threat, too, and Inter Milan’s Europa League game at home to Ludogorets will be played behind closed doors on Thursday night.

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