Liverpool's Covid outbreak gets worse as Pep Lijnders tests positive

Liverpool SHUT DOWN their Kirkby training ground as MORE stars test positive in a ‘rapidly spreading’ Covid outbreak – but EFL STILL won’t confirm if Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Arsenal is off

  • Liverpool were forced to shut down their Kirkby training centre due to Covid
  • The club’s assistant manager Pep Lijnders tested positive on Tuesday evening
  • The first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Arsenal is now in further disarray
  • Lijnders was due to be in charge at the Emirates given Jurgen Klopp is isolating
  • On Tuesday, the Reds submitted an official request for the match to be called off
  • This will now, inevitably, put doubt on Liverpool’s FA Cup clash with  Shrewsbury


Liverpool’s plans for the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal are in further disarray after they were forced to shutdown their Kirkby training centre.

The move came just hours after it emerged Pep Lijnders, the club’s assistant manager, had tested positive for Covid-19 and the scheduled press conference he was due to lead had been cancelled.

Lijnders, who would have been in charge for the game at the Emirates Stadium given that Jurgen Klopp is isolating, discovered the result of his latest test late on Tuesday night.

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders tested positive for Covid as their outbreak worsens

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders tested positive for Covid as their outbreak worsens

Liverpool have had to shut down their Kirkby training centre with Covid rapidly spreading

Liverpool have had to shut down their Kirkby training centre with Covid rapidly spreading

Lijnders, however, is not alone in testing positive and there have been further cases amongst the playing staff.

After consultation with Public Health Authorities over the increase in cases, the decision has been made to close the AXA Training Base for at least the next 48 hours.

A club statement read: ‘Liverpool Football Club can confirm the first-team training facilities at AXA Training Centre have been temporarily closed due to a rapidly growing number of suspected positive COVID-19 cases.

‘The Reds acted to suspend operations within the facility today after the latest round of testing revealed multiple new suspected positives.

‘The decision was made after consultation with the relevant Public Health authority. The new cases are in addition to those recorded on Monday and Tuesday morning.’

This will now, inevitably, place a doubt on the prospect of Liverpool’s FA Cup third round tie against Shrewsbury going ahead at Anfield on Sunday.

There is still no confirmation from the EFL over whether the first leg of the Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal will go ahead but it must be in serious jeopardy.

With the manager and his assistant now isolating, it raises further questions on whether the game will be able to be staged. If it does go ahead, there are no indications at this stage who might be asked to step up to fill in for Klopp and Lijnders. 

Lijnders has been deputising for manager Jurgen Klopp after he also tested positive last week

Lijnders has been deputising for manager Jurgen Klopp after he also tested positive last week

Liverpool's plans for the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Arsenal are in further chaos

Liverpool’s plans for the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Arsenal are in further chaos

Peter Kraweitz, the assistant manager, Vitor Matos, the elite development coach, and head of fitness Andreas Kornmayer are part of Klopp’s inner circle; Barry Lewtas is the club’s Under-23 head coach, but it is too early to say whether any of those will be expected to step forward.

Liverpool on Tuesday night submitted an official request for the match to be postponed after they were forced to cancel a scheduled training session due to a Covid outbreak amongst their squad, though they did not feel compelled to close their Kirkby base down completely. 

As things stand, Liverpool are without the isolating Joel Matip, Roberto Firmino and Alisson Becker, who tested positive ahead of last weekend’s trip to Chelsea; Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Harvey Elliott and Thiago Alcantara are injured, while Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Naby Keita are at the Africa Cup of Nations.

There are, however, other fitness concerns within the squad plus more suspected positive Covid-19 cases and, for that reason, Liverpool made their approach to the EFL on Tuesday night to have the game postponed. They issued a statement asking for an early decision, particularly for the sake of fans who intend to travel to London.

The club said: ‘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.’

It is expected that if a club has 14 players available, including two goalkeepers, a fixture must go ahead. 

Liverpool’s decision to apply for a postponement is a last resort, as there are very few gaps in the calendar and not many places to make a switch.

source: dailymail.co.uk