Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock will be unable to train or take charge of his players on a match day after the club confirmed he is self-isolating following a positive test for Covid-19.
It is not known whether any Boro players have caught the virus as, in line with EFL protocols, they will only be sent for a test if they display symptoms.
That will send a shudder through the rest of the Football League with clubs no longer routinely testing and the risk of infections going undetected heightened.
The fact he went for a test suggests that Warnock was feeling unwell when he had it although the club have said the 71-year-old, who would be classed in the high risk category for serious health complications related to the virus, is in good spirits at home.
Warnock, whose side lost their Championship opener to Watford and were knocked out of the Carabao Cup at home to Barnsley on Tuesday night, will miss the home game against Bournemouth and almost certainly the trip to QPR, one of his former clubs, the following weekend too.
The rest of the club’s coaching staff have returned negative tests, so Kevin Blackwell and Ronnie Jepson will take charge of the team in his absence.
However, it is likely to be the first of many positive tests across the Football League given infection numbers are rising all over the country.
Although top-flight clubs are routinely testing players and staff twice a week to ensure the safety of their bubbles, those lower down the ladder are not able to cover the cost of such a rigorous safety scheme.
The North East of England is on the brink of being forced into a local lockdown as case numbers spiral across the region, although Warnock is currently at home in Cornwall.
Middlesbrough said in a statement: “The club can confirm that our manager Neil Warnock has returned a positive test for COVID-19 and will be spending a period in isolation in accordance with guidelines.
“Neil is in good spirits and we look forward to welcoming him back after his period in isolation.”