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Andrija Novakovich tests positive for COVID-19

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The in-form American striker is forced to the sideline. 

Soccer: International Friendly Men’s Soccer-Bolivia at USA Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Striker Andrija Novakovich announced on his personal social media accounts that he has tested positive for COVID-19. The 24-year-old American wishes “success and health to [his] teammates and fans,” urging them to “stay safe.” The illness puts a damper and delay on what has been a breakthrough half-season. He already sat out against Reggiana and will likely miss Friday’s key match against Salernitana that could vault his team into second place and an automatic promotion spot.

Novakovich joined Serie B club Frosinone in 2019 from Reading. He struggled for playing time in the English Championship, embarking on loans of varying success with Cheltenham, Telstar, and Fortuna Sittard. The first season in Italy was somewhat productive with five goals and eight assists. The Canaries came tantalizingly close to Serie A promotion in August, losing a 1-1 aggregate series to Spezia in the playoff final due to a tiebreaker decided on better regular season finish.

The 6’4” target man appears to have taken a step forward in his second year at the club. Novakovich has scored five goals and assisted on two more in 11 appearances, including three in his last two matches. He’s ranked among the top scorers in the second division and is the youngest player on the chart. Manager Alessandro Nesta praised the striker as someone “who needs to play and to make mistakes” due to his “important potential.”

After a recent brace against Chievo, Novakovich shared with Frosinone’s official website that he views himself as one of the side’s leaders. “I work every day for the team,” he said. “[My goal is to] always play well for me and for the team and to win.”

A regular inclusion at the youth level, Novakovich made his senior international debut in a 2018 friendly against Paraguay. The Wisconsin native has earned three caps with the USMNT, most recently in October of 2018. In March, he told American Soccer Now he hasn’t “spoken with Gregg Berhalter since he got appointed.”

For now, the striker position remains up for grabs, with no player truly staking a claim on the starter or back-up roles. Novakovich has plenty of time to increase his production and develop before the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar. With Frosinone once again pushing for promotion, he has the opportunity to prove himself on an even bigger stage, which could lead to a return to the national team.