United may not release Fernandes for Portugal duty - Solskjaer

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - March 3, 2021 Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic in action with Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes Pool via REUTERS/Mike Hewitt

(Reuters) - Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he may not allow Bruno Fernandes to travel overseas for Portugal's matches during the international break if the midfielder is required to quarantine on his return to England.

Fernandes could face 10 days in isolation on his return from international duty because Portugal falls under the United Kingdom's COVID-19 travel 'red list'.

World soccer governing body FIFA has said clubs can refuse to release players if they are required to quarantine for more than five days on their return.

"We have not sat down and made a proper call on that one but it doesn't make sense if you lose your player for 10 days' isolation," Solskjaer said after Wednesday's Premier League draw at Crystal Palace.

"We are the ones paying the players ... FIFA have given the rule that they don't have to be released, so it is going to be a hard call to make to let them play in red-list countries."

Portugal are scheduled to face Azerbaijan, Serbia and Luxembourg on March 24, 27 and 30 respectively in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Fernandes could miss United's Premier League home game against Brighton & Hove Albion (April 3) and away game at Tottenham Hotspur (April 10) if he has to isolate for 10 days on returning from Portugal.

"I want Bruno ready for Brighton and hopefully we will be through in Europe and against Tottenham after that break," Solskjaer added.

Earlier, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp echoed Solskjaer's thoughts, with the Merseyside club likely to lose Brazilian players Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino and Portugal forward Diogo Jota for the same reason.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)

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