Liverpool schedule ‘absurd’ – Lijnders

Liverpool schedule ‘absurd’ – Lijnders


Pep Lijnders at Liverpool training
Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Thiago were among those absent for Liverpool against Spurs on Sunday following positive Covid tests

Assistant boss Pep Lijnders says it is “absurd” that Liverpool must play two games in four days given the number of Covid-19 cases and injuries at the club.

Premier League clubs chose to fulfil festive fixtures at a meeting on Monday despite a rise in Covid-19 cases.

“We love the intensity but we all have to respect recovery,” said Lijnders.

He added: “We think it is absurd we have to play after 48 hours. It’s a much higher risk of injury.

“You’ll have to ask the teams why they want to play. With the Covid cases being this fresh, it’d make sense to have more time before the next game.”

Liverpool were missing a number of key players against Tottenham, with Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara among those absent following positive Covid tests, while captain Jordan Henderson had a cold.

Lijnders also said the Premier League should listen to the scientists and not club executives when making decisions about how to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

Premier League players and club staff returned a record 90 positive tests last week, with six out of last weekend’s 10 fixtures postponed.

It had been suggested that the Premier League’s gameweek 20, starting on 28 December, would be postponed in order to ease the pressure on squads.

But the clubs have instead been advised if they have 13 fit players, plus a goalkeeper, they should fulfil their games.

“For me the experts are not the managers, they are the scientists and the doctors,” said Lijnders.

“We should follow their guidelines. The Premier League should ask them, not the CEOs, not the managers, because health always comes position number one above everything.”

Playing Kante ‘close to irresponsible’ – Tuchel

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says playing N’Golo Kante against Wolves at the weekend “was close to irresponsible” after the midfielder returned from injury, but felt he had little choice given the lack of options.

Kante had not featured for the first team in a month but, with nine players out through injury and Covid-related illness, played the full game at Molineux.

Chelsea were only able to name four outfield substitutes and had a request to postpone the game rejected by the Premier League.

“N’Golo Kante played 90 minutes against Wolves which was close to irresponsible,” said Tuchel, who confirmed the player will be rested for Tuesday’s EFL Cup quarter-final against Brentford.

“We are taking huge risks and now we are paying for it as we simply can’t play five games in two weeks, or three games in one week, with so many players out.”

Tuchel added that a proposed two-week circuit break, suggested as a possible solution to stem the rise in cases, may not be effective, even it would benefit his side in the short term.

“Maybe it would just have delayed the problem No-one can say for sure that if we delay for 10 days that we don’t have the problem again in three weeks,” added the German.

“There are some clubs who suffer a lot, we suffer very much in the moment, which is why it may have been better for us to have a short break. But maybe then we would have played against another team who suffers in the very next moment.”

West Ham boss David Moyes confirmed there are “one or two” players and staff who have tested positive for Covid-19, but that most are “OK”.

The Hammers travel to Tottenham in the EFL Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Brentford circuit breaker put them in a ‘fine place’

Brentford boss Thomas Frank says he now has no positive Covid cases in his squad.

Brentford’s past two matches, against Manchester United and Southampton, were called off because of the virus, but Wednesday’s EFL Cup meeting with Chelsea is scheduled to go ahead as planned.

Frank, who was the first Premier League boss to call for a break in the fixtures, said: “We’ll put 11 players out, that’s for sure.

“The [postponements] helped us break the circuit, so from six or seven cases Thursday, to Saturday we only had one, zero Monday and zero today. So we are definitely in a fine place.”

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