Manchester United's Premier League meeting with Brighton, scheduled for December 18, has been postponed as the Red Devils contend with a Covid-19 outbreak.
The Red Devils had already seen their meeting with Brentford called off, with the home match against the Seagulls the latest fixture to be postponed.
Ralf Rangnick’s men will now see a return to competitive action pushed back even further, with a home date against Brighton joining a growing list of top-flight fixtures that will need to be rescheduled.
What has been said?
A statement from the Premier League reads: "Manchester United’s fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion this weekend has been postponed by the Premier League Board today.
"It is with regret that this is the fourth Premier League fixture to have been postponed in the past week. While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks, it is the League’s intention to continue its current fixture schedule where safely possible. The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority.
"Regarding Manchester United’s game on Saturday, the club continues to have an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak within their squad, which has left them unable to field a team for the match at Old Trafford.
"A significant number of Covid-19 cases led to their game against Brentford FC being called off earlier this week, and today additional positive tests have been confirmed.
"The Board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and Covid-19 postponement guidance issued to all clubs. It will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the Covid-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match. The Board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club may come into contact with.
"In light of the recent rise in Covid-19 cases across the country, the Premier League has reintroduced Emergency Measures. These include protocols such as more frequent testing, wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time."
United added in a statement on the club’s official website: "The health of players and staff is our priority. Given the number of players and support staff having to isolate due to Covid-19, the club had no option other than to request the match be rearranged. The Premier League Board took the decision to postpone based on guidance from medical advisors.
"We will also suspend football training operations at the Carrington Training Complex for a short period to help reduce risk of further transmission.
"We regret any disappointment and inconvenience caused to fans by the postponement."
What other games have been postponed?
This weekend's originally scheduled contests between Southampton v Brentford, Watford v Palace, West Ham v Norwich and Everton v Leicester have also now been postponed.
Brentford, Watford and Leicester have all closed their training grounds in attempt to contain the latest spread of Covid-19, while the Premier League have reintroduced their 'Emergency Measures' protocols.
An official statement from the English top-flight reads: "It is with regret that the Premier League Board has postponed a further four matches due to be played this weekend.
"With the health and wellbeing of all players and staff the priority, and in light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Premier League has reintroduced Emergency Measures.
"These include protocols such as more frequent testing, wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time."
The bigger picture for United
United are now facing a serious fixture pile-up heading towards 2022.
They are challenging for a top-four finish in the Premier League, are about to enter the FA Cup at the third round stage and will be taking on Atletico Madrid in the last-16 of the Champions League.
The Red Devils have, however, been left with little choice but to put their own coronavirus circuit breaker in place.
Between injury recovery and Covid isolation protocols, United had just nine players from their first-team squad available to face Brentford and only seven in contention for the Brighton game.