Derby to play youngsters in cup after coronavirus outbreak

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DERBY, England (AP) -- Derby manager Wayne Rooney and his entire first-team squad will miss the FA Cup match against non-league Chorley on Saturday following a coronavirus outbreak at the second-division club which has closed its training ground.

The team will instead send a group of under-23 and under-18 players to play in the third-round game, Derby chief executive Stephen Pearce said Wednesday.

Pearce said nine players and staff within the first-team bubble have tested positive for COVID-19. Derby can field its younger players in the cup as they operate within a different bubble, although the group will be tested on Thursday to ensure none of them have contracted the coronavirus.

''If you've got 14 registered players - and it doesn't matter whether they are academy-registered or first team-registered - you are obliged to fulfill the fixture if you can, unless for other reasons if you want to apply,'' Pearce said. ''We still have 16 players we are still able to put out on Saturday. As a club, we're quite pleased to do that and we're keen to get the game up and running.''

Derby's youngsters will prepare for the match against Chorley, which plays in the sixth-tier National League North, by spending two days at nearby St. George's Park - the Football Association's national training center.

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