Jurgen Klopp will miss Liverpool’s trip to Chelsea on Sunday, Jan. 2 after becoming the latest Premier League manager to test positive for COVID-19.
Klopp returned a positive COVID-19 test the day before the match, and will therefore be absent from the touchline at Stamford Bridge.
Assistant manager Pep Lijnders will take charge of the team, with three other staff members, as yet unnamed, also set to miss the game after contracting the illness.
The Reds’ preparations have already been severely affected, with three first-team players testing positive earlier in the week.
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Klopp reported mild symptoms on Friday and returned a suspected positive COVID-19 test the following day, according to information obtained by GOAL.
He is isolating while awaiting the results of a PCR test, but did not make the trip to London with his side, and is also likely to miss Thursday’s Carabao Cup semifinal first-leg tie at Arsenal.
In addition, three senior players, and three other members of staff have returned positive tests since the Reds’ last fixture, the 1-0 defeat to Leicester on December 28.
Liverpool will also be without five first-team players — Thiago Alcantara, Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott — due to injury.
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Who replaces Klopp on Liverpool bench?
Lijnders, nicknamed Pep, is a 38-year-old Dutch coach who has served as a Liverpool assistant coach over the course of eight seasons since 2014. That’s when he joined Brendan Rodgers’ staff from Porto, and he stayed on to work with Klopp when the German took over.
He made his name in youth development at PSV Eindhoven in his native Netherlands, before joining Andre Villas-Boas’s crew at FC Porto, where he coached young players and with the senior team.
Lijnders left Liverpool for five months in January 2018 to take over as head coach at Dutch side NEC Nijmegen. But they parted ways after he failed to guide the team to Eredivisie promotion, rejoining Liverpool after that brief spell.
Chelsea-Liverpool is on despite COVID positives
The scheduled match is set to move forward with Liverpool sources insisting that they have not contacted the Premier League to request a postponement, and that they do not anticipate doing so at this stage.
They would, it is understood, still have the minimum of 13 senior outfield players, plus a goalkeeper, to complete the fixture, though that would be subject to change if more positive tests were to be recorded before Sunday afternoon.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has been outspoken in recent weeks in his belief that the Premier League could have done more to help clubs dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.
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The Blues themselves are struggling due to injury and positive cases, but as things stand Sunday’s showpiece clash is set to go ahead, albeit with a number of key figures missing.