(Reuters) - Sunderland will be without eight first team players against Wimbledon later on Tuesday after the League One club said one player tested positive for COVID-19, forcing seven more who were in close contact with him to go into self-isolation.
The third-tier club said they discussed postponing the match but could not reach agreement with the English Football League (EFL) "due to the "lack of clarity" regarding any potential sanctions they would face if they could not fulfil the fixture.
"After displaying symptoms of coronavirus on Sunday, one senior player has returned a positive test for COVID-19 and is currently observing a period of isolation," Sunderland said in a statement.
"In line with government advice, seven other first-team players are also self-isolating at home – two of which have displayed symptoms – after coming into close proximity with the individual that has tested positive."
The club did not name the players who were self-isolating.
The news comes two weeks after local rivals Newcastle United were forced to close their training ground after several players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 and had their Premier League match against Aston Villa postponed.
The two clubs are in the North East of England which was placed under the British government's Tier 3 (very high alert) restrictions following the national lockdown.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)