Jurgen Klopp expects game at Chelsea to go ahead despite coronavirus concerns

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Liverpool have recorded three new positive Covid-19 cases but manager Jurgen Klopp believes Sunday’s Premier League game at Chelsea is not yet close to being called off.

The Reds boss declined to name the trio as they were still awaiting PCR test confirmations but in training pictures released by the club yesterday notable absentees from the group included goalkeeper Alisson Becker and Roberto Firmino.

“We have three new Covid cases in the team and a few more in the staff so it’s not so cool at the moment,” said Klopp.

“I’m not able to say who it is because we have to do the whole process, get a proper PCR, but you will see the day after tomorrow on the team sheet it will be pretty clear who is affected or infected.

“We never had this proper outbreak where 15 to 20 players had it. For us it is every day, another one, stuff happens more and more often.

“It’s like a lottery in the morning, waiting for the result. It is pretty much day-by-day, always one case, then another one.

“We have to wait as the boys are not in yet. In this moment (we will) probably not (ask for a postponement) but we don’t know how it will look in a few hours.”

In addition to the three Covid cases, Takumi Minamino and Thiago Alcantara will miss the trip to Chelsea on Sunday.

“Taki is probably closer (to fitness). Taki is running outside, Thiago not yet,” added Klopp.

“For him it will take a little longer, it is a hip issue but we don’t have an idea where it’s coming from so we have to be patient with that.”

Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge will be the last time for a month Klopp is able to select the Premier League’s top scorer Mohamed Salah, fellow forward Sadio Mane or midfielder Naby Keita.

All three head off to the Africa Cup of Nations immediately after the match and replacing Salah – 15 league goals and nine assists – will be an issue which particularly taxes Klopp.

In normal circumstances he admits there would have been a longer-term plan established, but with Covid meaning teams can change at the last minute, he is having to resolve issues on a day-by-day basis.

“We knew for longer this situation would be difficult. Not only we lose three players but the players we have not available now will probably not be available for the first Arsenal (Carabao Cup semi-final) game,” said the manager.

Mohamed Salah applauds the crowd
Mohamed Salah leaves for the African Nations Cup after Sunday’s match at Chelsea (Peter Byrne/PA)

“We have to see. You have to solve problems with football solutions and football solutions will happen with the players we have available.

“In the long term I know exactly how we could play if all the rest are fit, healthy and available. It is no problem and it would be a strong team.

“I don’t know who is available from (January) 3rd on. Let’s have a look in a moment when we know about that and we will find a solution and see how we get through that.”

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