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Liverpool’s COVID crisis deepens as assistant boss Lijnders tests positive

LONDON (AFP) – Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has become the latest member of the club staff to test positive for coronavirus, throwing today’s League Cup semi-final at Arsenal into further doubt.

With manager Jurgen Klopp and three players – Alisson Becker, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino – already isolating, Lijnders, who took charge of the team for Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea, recorded a positive test late on Tuesday.

That was after Liverpool had made a submission to the English Football League to postpone the first-leg clash at the Emirates following further positive cases among the squad and other player availability issues linked to illness and injury.

The club have cancelled yesterday’s pre-match press conference, at which Lijnders was due to speak.

Liverpool are also missing Thiago Alcantara, Takumi Minamino, Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott through injury, while Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita are now on Africa Cup of Nations duty.

A Liverpool statement yesterday said: “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’ positive result coming after the request was lodged.”

Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp consults assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders. PHOTO: XINHUA