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Vella makes 11 changes to Malta Under-21 squad as preparations hit by COVID-19

Malta Under-21 coach Silvio Vella has named a revised squad of 22 players for Tuesday’s UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifier away to Romania.

The squad features several newcomers as Vella had to make changes due to the unavailability of many players because of COVID-19 issues. From the squad for the home qualifier against Denmark (1-3) last Friday, Vella has had to make no fewer than 11 changes for the trip to Romania.

On Sunday, the Malta FA announced that the team’s preparations for Tuesday’s UEFA Championship qualifier in Romanian has been severely affected by COVID-19 restrictions after a second player tested positive for the virus and eight members of Silvio Vella’s team were forced to pull out of the squad after being ordered to go into quarantine.  

In a statement, the Malta FA said: “The Malta FA Medical Team have been evaluating the fluid situation related to the national Under-21 squad and adopting all the necessary precautions and measures after a player tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of positive cases during the current international week to two.

“In compliance with the UEFA Return to Play and local health protocols, the player has immediately gone into self-isolation. The Malta FA doctors have completed the contact tracing assessment and another eight members of the current Malta Under-21 squad have been placed into quarantine after being identified as high-risk contacts.

“Another player was withdrawn from the squad yesterday and entered a period of self-quarantine as, prior to the start of the October international window, he had been in close contact with a person who returned a positive COVID result. The latter case is not linked to the Malta Under-21 squad.”

The Malta FA said that apart from the player who tested positive yesterday, the rest of the squad and staff members returned negative results but several other players have been instructed to go into quarantine based on the contact tracing report.

“All the players and staff members of the Malta Under-21 delegation have been swabbed again today and the results are still pending,” the MFA added.

The Malta U-21 squad was due to fly to Romania on Monday morning.

SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS
Cain Formosa (San Ġwann); Duncan Formosa (St Andrews).

DEFENDERS
Darren Borg (Ħamrun Spartans); Gary Camilleri (Balzan); Mark Fenech (Naxxar Lions); Christian Gauci (San Ġwann); Owen Spiteri (San Ġwann); Matthew Spiteri (Tarxien Rainbows).

MIDFIELDERS
Keith Attard (Tarxien Rainbows); Matthew Farrugia (Hibernians); Mchael Gatt (Qrendi); Jake Ghio (Pietà Hotspurs); Rudy Jeffries (Hibernians); Luca Mallia (San Ġwann); Liam McKay (Santa Lucia); Jan Tanti (Senglea Athletic); Andreas Vella (Santa Lucia).

FORWARDS
Omar Elouni (Gżira United); Aidan Friggieri (Gudja United); James Scicluna (Pietà Hotspurs); Andrei Spiteri (Mosta); Andrea Zammit (San Ġwann).

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