Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and 20 other members of the first team bubble have contracted COVID-19, the latest round of testing at the club has shown.

Manchester City Covid outbreak
A serious COVID-19 outbreak at Manchester City is affecting their preparation for the clash against Swindon in the FA Cup. (Image: Twitter/debruynekev)

As a result, the team will be unable to prepare for, or feature in, City’s FA Cup third-round match against Swindon Town (League Two) on Friday.

Juanma Lillo, Guardiola’s assistant, also tested positive, so coach Rodolfo Borrell will lead City from the bench. The 21 members of the first team bubble who were infected are now self-isolating. Seven of them are players, while the other 14 are part of the backroom staff at City.

“Pep Guardiola will miss tomorrow evening’s FA Cup trip to Swindon Town after testing positive for Covid-19,” a Manchester City club statement read.

“The City manager recorded a positive test on Tuesday along with assistant Juanma Lillo. Both are now isolating, along with a number of other positive cases within the City first team bubble,” the press release clarified.

FA Cup games are played if each team has at least 14 men available

The FA wants the third round of games in the Cup to go ahead as planned. The rules in the competition require a team to have 14 players available, so a match could go ahead. Youth players are also included in the counting.

All clubs must ensure that their players take a lateral flow test within one day of the match, and no later than five hours before kickoff, according to updated FA protocols on COVID-19.

Despite their COVID-19 situation and the FA Cup being recognized as a giant killer, Manchester City is regarded as the favorite to qualify for the fourth round in the Cup.

Fourth-tier Swindon sits at +1100 to win, with a draw at +650. City is at -550 to triumph. For bettors seeking higher odds on City, a bet on the Premier League leaders scoring twice, while also registering at least six corners in normal time, stands at -200. Swindon taking advantage of City’s problems and netting at least once is at -170, which might sound really tempting for some.