The Premier League have rejected a request by both Tottenham and Leicester City for Thursday's match to be postponed due to COVID-19 issues at both clubs.
Leicester are without nine first team players due to COVID-19 and illness while Spurs lost the same number last week as an outbreak hit Antonio Conte's squad, his coaching staff and the Under-23 setup. Their matches against Rennes and Brighton were postponed and their training ground closed until Sunday. At least three players who tested positive have since returned to training but Conte was at pains to note that they would need time to recover their fitness.
CBS Sports understands that Tottenham's request to postpone Thursday's game was submitted so as to allow them to reschedule their game against Rennes.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said that his club had seen a request rejected and appeared to question the lack of support offered by the Premier League over rescheduling the game. "We've looked at [postponing the game]," he said in his pre-match press conference.
"Unfortunately for us, we weren't granted any dispensation, which was disappointing. We've wanted to support the measures, but when we wanted support for the extreme situation we were in, it's disappointing not to get the support.
"We were touch and go for the Newcastle game. We've picked up a couple of injuries as well, that are COVID-related because we can't rotate the team. We'll put out the best team we can."
Meanwhile Conte also confirmed that Spurs had submitted a request. Tottenham had also seen a Premier League clash with Burnley taken off the schedule due to snow; setting them three games behind other clubs could lead to fixture headaches for the league and clubs later in the season.
Conte said: "The Premier League didn't want to postpone the game against Leicester, maybe because we have to play against Burnley and Brighton. We can understand on one hand, in another I think that we deserved to play our chance against Rennes and don't find a good solution between UEFA and Premier League. Why does Tottenham have to pay for this?
"It's not fair that we have to pay for a situation that's not our fault. I understand if we did something wrong. We must be ready to accept every decision. For the club, for the players, for me and my staff it's very difficult to understand what is happening."
Even though previously positive players are beginning to join training at Hotspur Way, Conte fears that the lasting impact of COVID-19 will make them more vulnerable to injuries. Rodgers made a similar point while noting that his squad was losing players to injury because he was unable to rotate his squad.
"Today two players are back in training for the first time," Conte said. "Yesterday another player. But they need to be fit before they play. Tomorrow I'll bring them on the bench for 15-20 minutes at the end; they have in their legs 20-25 minutes to play with us.
"This is the big problem that we must be ready to face in the future, to bring these players that have had COVID to be fit and avoid injuries. This will be a big problem in the future, not in 10 days. After 10 days you have the players available but then you have to pay great attention to their training, if the body is ready to work in a good way, to avoid problems and injuries in the future. This is the big problem not just for Tottenham but for all the clubs that have COVID players."
Looming large over Spurs' fixture list is the status of their final Conference League group game against Rennes. Conte indicated that UK health authorities had compelled Tottenham to close their training ground but insisted they wanted to find space in the fixture list to complete their European fixtures.
UEFA has stated that the result will be decided by its Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body, which will decide on whether Tottenham had enough players available to fulfil the fixture. Spurs are three points behind Rennes in Group G; if their game against Rennes is fulfilled a win would see them qualify.
"We want to play the game," said Conte. "Tottenham deserves to play the last game of this group. It's a really strange situation. We didn't play not through our fault but for a big problem because the government decided to close our training ground, to stop for three days our training session. For this reason we didn't play, not for other reasons.
"We aren't at fault for what happened. I tell you that we deserve to have the chance to play the last game and try to go to the next round."
In addition to Spurs' trip to Brighton, Manchester United's game away to Brentford on Tuesday was postponed due to COVID-19. On Monday the Premier League announced a record 41 positive cases in tests carried out in the preceding week. The following day a shareholders' meeting agreed to move the 20 clubs to emergency measures which will include daily testing for players. Meanwhile from Wednesday onwards supporters must provide either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to be admitted to Premier League matches.