NEWCASTLE UNITED officials will hold talks with senior representatives of the Premier League at the start of next week to discuss the fate of the club’s proposed home game with West Bromwich Albion.

The Magpies are due to host West Brom next Saturday afternoon, but the game may have to be postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak that forced the cancellation of last night’s game at Aston Villa.

Reports have suggested that at least eight senior members of Newcastle’s playing and coaching staff have now tested positive, but with the club refusing to reveal the identity of anyone who has contracted the virus because of the need for medical anonymity, the number could be much higher.

It is known that three members of Newcastle’s first-team group were unable to travel to Selhurst Park for the Magpies’ 2-0 win at the end of last month because they had contracted Covid, while two more positive test results came through last weekend, forcing the postponement of the club’s planned trip to Villa Park.

However, it has now been suggested that at least three members of Newcastle’s 18-man squad at Crystal Palace have also received positive results after being retested earlier this week.

It is clear Newcastle have suffered a major Covid outbreak, and their Darsley Park training ground remains completely sealed off. It is not due to reopen over the weekend, and Newcastle are expected to seek advice from both the Premier League and Public Health England before deciding how to operate next week.

At this stage, next Saturday’s game with West Brom hangs in the balance, with current Covid regulations stipulating that anyone who receives a positive test result has to self-isolate for at least ten days.

The Premier League could demand that Newcastle play next weekend’s game, even if it means having to promote previously untried Under-23 players into their first-team squad.

However, the governing body will be led by advice from Public Health England, who were involved in the decision to call off the Aston Villa. The Premier League will also be mindful of the need to protect player safety and the integrity of the competition if Newcastle’s training ground has to remain closed next week and Steve Bruce’s players are therefore unable to prepare for a match against West Brom.

The Premier League will not be changing their current Covid testing programme in the wake of recent developments on Tyneside, and continue to insist that any extra testing will be at the expense and discretion of individual clubs.