FIFA have revealed that the Premier League have the option to reschedule the many postponed games this season during an international break later this month.
There is an international window between January 24 and February 2 and the 18 top-flight games postponed due to rising Covid-19 cases could be played then.
The international window which runs from January 24 to February 2 will not involve European countries, and had been viewed by the league at the start of the season as an opportunity for any players not called up for international duty elsewhere to take a break.
However, that 10-day period could now be valuable to catch up, and FIFA would not stand in the Premier League’s way if it chose to stage matches then, provided clubs released non-European players when requested to.
A FIFA spokesperson said: “In accordance with article 1, paragraph 2 of Annexe 1 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, the release of players is mandatory for all international windows listed in the international match calendar.
“Therefore, should clubs and leagues decide to play on those dates they would not be able to feature any player who has been called up/is on international duty.”
Playing top-flight matches during the window could create issues around integrity, with some clubs more affected by call-ups outside Europe than others.
Many clubs have already been weakened after releasing players for the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts on Sunday and runs until February 6.
The Premier League has not commented on how it intends to reschedule further matches beyond three which were allotted new dates last week – Southampton v Brentford, West Ham v Norwich and Everton v Leicester.
Ninety one per cent of Premier League matches this season have been played as scheduled.
From Thursday, the league is dropping twice-weekly PCR testing on all players and staff, the PA news agency understands.