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Liverpool interim coach Lijnders tests positive for COVID-19, match with Arsenal in doubt

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London, Jan 5 (IANS) Liverpool Football Club has submitted an application for the postponement of Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg tie with Arsenal due to an escalating number of suspected positive COVID-19 cases and player availability, the club said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Liverpool assistant coach Pep Lijnders, who has been in interim charge of Liverpool while Jurgen Klopp is isolating, also has tested positive for COVID-19 plunging Thursday’s Carabao Cup game against Arsenal into further doubt.

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The assistant manager had been due to handle the pre-match press conference at the AXA Training Centre in place of Jürgen Klopp, who is continuing to isolate having tested positive for the virus last week.

Liverpool said other factors impacting selection, such as injuries and players like Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah having left for the African Cup of Nations, are affecting player availability for the first-leg match at Emirates Stadium.

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“With no prospect of the current situation improving ahead of Thursday’s fixture and the potential for it to worsen, the club considers it both prudent and reasonable to ask for the fixture to be rescheduled,” Liverpool said.

The English Football League said it would make a decision “as soon as possible once the circumstances have been fully reviewed.

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The 38-year-old took 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’s positive result coming after the request was lodged,” said the club. The outcome of this application is still pending.

–IANS

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