Jurgen Klopp says logistical issues associated with the international break have been further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic – and admits the situation is a ‘growing concern’ for Liverpool.
Sadio Mane became the latest Liverpool star to test positive for Covid-19. The Reds made the result public late on Friday night. Mane now misses Sunday’s game at Aston Villa as he undergoes a period of self-isolation.
News of Mane’s positive test follows on from Thiago Alcantara’s on Tuesday.
As such, Klopp is already well aware his team selection options can change at a moment’s notice.
After this weekend, Liverpool have a 13-day ‘rest’ period during the international break. They will resume action on October 17 against Everton in a mouthwatering Merseyside derby.
However, with the game brought forward to a 12.30 kick-off for television, Klopp faces the prospect of making some very late selection decisions. As such, his Brazilian contingent of Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker and Fabinho will all face late ‘tests’.
The trio play in Peru on Wednesday evening and are not expected back at Melwood until Friday. That will be less than 24 hours before kick-off. They will then take Covid-19 tests, with the results not likely to be known until the morning of the match.
“I’m not saying this is the safest place in the world, but it’s the place we know at least. We know how to deal with the different scenarios,” said Klopp.
“Yes, I am slightly concerned. It’s difficult to get in contact with all FAs all over the world.
“I understand 100 per cent the demands on FAs, UEFA and FIFA. I know how difficult the situation is for everybody but it’s not exactly perfect.
“As a football club it’s pretty often you are pretty alone in these moments.
“We send the players away, the Premier League and the TV broadcasters give us a challenge a lot. They just don’t care if our players play on Wednesday night in Peru, for example.
“They still think it’s a good idea to let us play on Saturday pretty early.
“Supporters at other clubs say I moan constantly, but I don’t moan. I know it’s difficult.
“As a club you have to make sure you bring the players home in the quickest and most safe way because nobody helps you.
“Then they arrive on Friday, we see if we can make a (coronavirus) test, and then we don’t get the result until the Saturday.
“It’s really tricky. We try everything to make it right and safe as possible, but from time to time a little more help would not be bad.”
Wijnaldum ‘standard setting’ at Liverpool
Georginio Wijnaldum admits they are working harder in order to maintain those standards.
“The only thing we did now is, because we turned champions, you just want to give more and win it again,” he told liverpoolfc.com.
“We train hard, like we did before – maybe even harder because we know we can’t do things less because we know how difficult it is to win games and to perform.
“We just do the things we did last season, but we are sharper and more concentrated. The kind of football we’ve been playing was quite good.
“The circumstances we had to deal with were difficult but we still did well, so that also made me proud because we were in a situation where we could find excuses – but we didn’t.
“We dealt with the situations we had and tried to put a good performance on the pitch. That’s what we did – we had good performances, the results were good.
“I hope we can do the same against Aston Villa, so everyone goes with a good feeling to the national team.”