Before Christmas, four Liverpool players tested positive for Covid, with Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Thiago, and Curtis Jones, forced to miss games while they went into isolation and then only returning to the fold over the past week.
When they did come back, the hope had been that the club was through the worst and any large scale outbreak had been avoided, but today Jürgen Klopp told the media that three further first team players had returned positive tests.
“We have three new cases in the team and a few more staff,” Klopp said. “It’s not so cool in the moment. We have to do the whole processes, get a proper PCR and all these things, but it will be clear by the teamsheet who is affected.”
“We never had this kind of outbreak where every day another one, and staff too more and more. It feels like a lottery when you stand there and wait for the result. It is now pretty much day by day always one—and today another one.”
Klopp further noted that the current number of cases at the club would “probably not” be enough to force Sunday’s match to be postponed, but test results over the next two days will ultimately determine whether the game goes ahead.
Also, while the need for further testing means there was no confirmation from the Liverpool boss as to who had tested positive yet, goalkeeper Alisson Becker and forward Roberto Firmino were both absent from training on Thursday.
Whatever the cause of that absence, if they aren’t available for Sunday it would represent a significant blow to the Reds’ chances. Meanwhile, Thiago, Divock Origi, and Takumi Minamino are expected to miss the game due to injury.
Then, following the Chelsea match, there will be a further headache for Klopp to try to deal with as a squad and staff facing a potential Covid outbreak sees Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, and Naby Keïta head off the the Africa Cup of Nations.
“We’ve known about it for long time now,” Klopp noted when asked about the three players set to depart after the Chelsea match. “There will be Covid absences for the first Arsenal game, too, so we have to sort it with football solutions.
“I know how we play if everyone is fit but I don’t know who can play from the third onwards. I am positive, but it depends on who is available so we have to wait. The boys are not in yet and we don’t even know how it looks in a few hours.”