Manchester City quintet miss Chelsea trip after positive Covid tests

The Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, has confirmed the club will have five players unavailable for their Premier League game at Chelsea on Sunday following positive coronavirus tests.

City’s game at Everton on Monday was postponed at short notice after three more players tested positive for Covid-19 following the positive tests returned by Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus on Christmas Day. The latest results bring the total number of first-team personnel at the club isolating to seven, including two other staff members.

Guardiola said at a press conference: “It was four people – [including] two players – the first time and then three more.” He said the club were not yet in a position to reveal the identities of the latest trio of players to test positive: “I don’t think the Premier League allows us to name the players but you will know tomorrow.”

Pressed on why this was the case, Guardiola said: “We have to respect the privacy of the players maybe. You will see the lineups and three important players not there, so you will know exactly but I’m not allowed to tell you.”

Guardiola insisted City had enough players available to play at Everton but, with news of the positive tests only coming through late in the day, there was little alternative but to call off the game. “We wanted to play but on the day of the game, with more cases, we informed the Premier League. I personally called [the Everton manager] Carlo Ancelotti to explain the situation because the day before we were in touch about what would happen and the huge risk.”

Everton expressed frustration after the postponement was announced, calling for “full disclosure of all the information” that led to the decision being taken. Ancelotti was later more sincere, sending best wishes to the City staff affected.

Guardiola said: “I preferred the statement from Carlo Ancelotti than the statement from the club. We would have loved to play the game but, wisely, the Premier League decided for the welfare of everyone not to increase the cases.”