Pep Guardiola has confirmed three more “important” Manchester City players have tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of their Premier League visit to Chelsea on Sunday.
City’s top-flight clash with Everton on Monday was postponed following a coronavirus outbreak at the club, with Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker and another two staff members testing positive for COVID-19.
The match was called off in the hours before kick-off after City “returned a number of positive cases”, with the fixture becoming the second in the competition to be postponed this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Newcastle were struck by the virus and missed a game at Aston Villa, while a third postponement followed on Wednesday as Tottenham versus Fulham fell by the wayside.
City resumed training on Wednesday but Guardiola has now confirmed that three more first-team players have joined Jesus and Walker in testing positive for COVID-19.
“It was four people, two players, the first time and then three more,” he told a media conference.
A double from @gabrieljesus9 got 2020 off to a winning start!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 1, 2021
“I don’t think the Premier League allows us to name the players but you will know tomorrow.
“We have to respect the privacy of the players maybe. Tomorrow you will see the lineups and three important players not there so you will know exactly but I’m not allowed to tell you.
“People are dying all around the world. Unfortunately, the problem is still here but now the training centre is disinfected and hopefully the next tests everyone is negative and the people that are positive can come back without problems.”
There have been growing calls for a circuit break – a tight set of restrictions, likely including the suspension of games, designed to reverse the tide of the pandemic – but Guardiola is content to keep following the Premier League’s advice.
“We will follow what the Premier League says,” he added. “They are doing an incredible job and have been since the first lockdown but it is unfortunate what happened with Newcastle.
“I spoke with Steve Bruce and he explained how difficult it was, more than 20 people infected and it can happen to any club in the Premier League.
“The situation everywhere is dramatic, with 1000 deaths in a day. We have to be careful.
“We are delighted to play games and do our job but at the same time we cannot ignore the reality that the virus is here and we don’t know exactly when you can get it. We have to be careful, wearing masks and socially distancing.”
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