Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders has tested positive for Covid-19, plunging Thursday’s Carabao Cup game against Arsenal into further doubt.
Lijnders has been in interim charge of Liverpool while Jurgen Klopp is isolating and was due to host a news conference on Wednesday morning in the absence of the Liverpool manager.
That news conference was cancelled, with Liverpool confirming Lijnders had returned a positive test.
Liverpool formally requested to have Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Arsenal postponed after further cases of Covid-19 within the squad forced the cancellation of training on Tuesday.
A Liverpool statement on Wednesday said: “Liverpool Football Club can confirm Pepijn Lijnders has returned a suspected positive test for COVID-19, further impacting the club’s preparations for Thursday’s Carabao Cup tie with Arsenal.
“As an additional consequence, this morning’s scheduled press conference to preview the fixture has been cancelled.
“The assistant manager had been due to handle pre-match media duties at the AXA Training Centre in place of Jürgen Klopp, who is continuing to isolate having tested positive for the virus last week.
“However, Lijnders also recorded a positive test late on Tuesday evening, meaning he has now also gone into isolation.
“The 38-year-old had taken interim charge of Liverpool for the weekend draw at Chelsea in the absence of Klopp and had been set to continue at the helm at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
“Lijnders’ test result comes in addition to a number of suspected positive cases among players and football staff recorded earlier on Tuesday, which forced the cancellation of the day’s scheduled training session.
“As a result of the outbreak and the suspension of preparations, as well as other illnesses and injuries recorded within the squad, the club submitted an application to the EFL for the postponement of Thursday’s tie with Arsenal, with the news of Lijnders’ positive result coming after the request was lodged.
“The outcome of this application is still pending.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and three players – Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip – were forced to miss Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea after testing positive.
Liverpool were without a total of nine players for the match at Chelsea through illness and injury, and have subsequently lost Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane to Africa Cup of Nations duty.
The request for a postponement will also raise a question over Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie at home to Shrewsbury.
The return leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final at Anfield is scheduled for January 13.
Would Liverpool have to forfeit the match?
Back in September 2020, Leyton Orient were forced to forfeit their Carabao Cup third-round tie against Tottenham due to 18 of their first-team players and staff testing positive for Covid-19.
An order from the local health authority also meant Orient were unable to play the third-round fixture before the fourth round game, which was scheduled for a week later.
Rule 5.1 of the Carabao Cup competition states a club has to forfeit a match should they not be able to complete it before the next round is scheduled.
However, Liverpool should avoid forfeiting due to the final being scheduled for February 27. Effectively, Arsenal and Liverpool have until that date to play both semi-final legs.
Liverpool’s next six fixtures
January 6: Arsenal (A) – Carabao Cup, live on Sky Sports
January 9: Shrewsbury (H) – FA Cup third round
January 13: Arsenal (H) – Carabao Cup
January 16: Brentford (H) – Premier League
January 23: Crystal Palace (A) – Premier League, live on Sky Sports
Brighton vs Tottenham – Sunday, December 12
Brentford vs Man Utd – Tuesday, December 14
Burnley vs Watford – Wednesday, December 15
Leicester vs Tottenham – Thursday, December 16
Man Utd vs Brighton – Saturday, December 18
Southampton vs Brentford – Saturday, December 18
Watford vs Crystal Palace – Saturday, December 18
West Ham vs Norwich – Saturday, December 18
Aston Villa vs Burnley – Saturday, December 18
Everton vs Leicester – Sunday, December 19
Liverpool vs Leeds – Sunday, December 26
Wolves vs Watford – Sunday, December 26
Burnley vs Everton – Sunday, December 26
Leeds vs Aston Villa – Tuesday, December 28
Arsenal vs Wolves – Tuesday, December 28
Everton vs Newcastle – Thursday, December 30
Southampton vs Newcastle – Sunday, January 2
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