Liverpool’s postponed Boxing Day match with Leeds has brought extra problems for Jurgen Klopp with defender Andy Robertson now set to miss their clash against title rivals Chelsea.
The Scottish left-back is currently in the middle of a three-game suspension for the straight red card he was handed in the Reds’ 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday.
Originally, Robertson would have been back for the game at Stamford Bridge on January 2, having missed the Carabao Cup win over Leicester, the Boxing Day game with Leeds and their trip to the King Power to again play the Foxes on December 28.
Andy Robertson will miss Liverpool’s crucial clash against title rivals Chelsea due to a ban
However, the Premier League has confirmed that Liverpool’s 12.30 kick-off against Leeds on December 26, as well as the game between Wolves and Watford, have been postponed due to Covid-19.
Leeds reported five new positive Covid cases within the squad and, along with their injury issues, would not have had enough recognised first-team players to meet the Premier League’s requirements for the fixture.
With Robertson now unavailable for the Chelsea clash, it means that Kostas Tsimikas will likely step in his place at left-back.
Robertson was originally due to return for Chelsea after his red card against Tottenham
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds reported five positive cases and asked for their game to be delayed
The Reds already have a number of concerns going into the clash against Chelsea – who are three points behind them in the league.
They are hopeful that Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita will all be available for the hugely important game before they fly off for the Africa Cup of Nations – which kicks off in Cameroon on January 9.
The Reds boss has already seen a handful of players pull out after picking up the virus for recent games, with Thiago Alcantara, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones all testing positive.
Klopp will be hopeful there are no further positive cases or injuries going into the Chelsea game.
A Premier League statement read: ‘Following postponement requests from Leeds United and Watford FC as a result of COVID-19, the Premier League Board met this morning and regrettably agreed to call off the two affected clubs’ Boxing Day fixtures.
Liverpool are hoping that Sadio Mane and Mo Salah will be available for the Chelsea game
‘The two games are Wolverhampton Wanderers versus Watford FC and Liverpool FC against Leeds United, both due to be played on Sunday at 12:30pm.’
The last round of tests saw 90 players and staff return positive cases, around double the previous total.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had lobbied heavily for footballing authorities to take player welfare into account, with clubs meeting over zoom on Thursday to discuss the issue concerning Covid.
Klopp might be relieved that his side’s clash against Leeds has been postponed as he will now get the break he had been pushing for.
Jurgen Klopp had complained about playing on the 28th – two days after their now postponed Boxing Day game with Leeds
Speaking to Viaplay Fotball after their Carabao Cup win over Leicester, the German said: ‘The problem is and will always be, there’s no reason for it really. I have no problem with all the Christmas and the Boxing Day is a wonderful game – nobody wants to delete that and cancel that.
‘It’s just 26th and 28th, it’s absolutely impossible and it’s a joke that they still do it because there’s no problem to play 26th and 29th.
‘If the 28th is not a match day then who cares? People have enough to do between Christmas and New Year, see the family, stuff like this.
‘Playing the 26th and 29th is great, it’s still the shortest of all possible breaks but it’s fine. The 26th and 28th is just not right and we will say that all the time.
‘It’s really dangerous for the players, it is and that’s what you have a squad for but everybody expects from us to win.
‘There’s maybe two teams if everyone’s fit but Chelsea in this moment is not the case as well. City, they might have the squad for playing two games, 11 players and go through the Premier League. The other teams can’t do that and it’s really tricky.’