Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has revealed that three more of his players have tested positive for COVID-19.
Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus had tested positive for the virus before Christmas, which made them miss the Premier League win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day.
There was then an outbreak in the club which forced the postponement of Monday’s fixture at Everton.
Guardiola claimed that City were ready to go ahead with the fixture against Everton, but the Premier League advised the game should be cancelled on health grounds.
“We have five [players out] right now,” Guardiola said during his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s Premier trip to Chelsea.
“Five players. The first cases were two players and two staff – and then three players the second time.
“The Premier league will not allow us [to name the players], but tomorrow you will see because they will not travel. They told us not to and some clubs announce, some don’t.
“We have to respect the privacy of players. But tomorrow you will see the three important players who are not there. I am not allowed to tell you.
“We had enough players to play Everton – we wanted to play – but on the day of the game with the day before four cases, the virus was inside our club.
“I called Carlo Ancelotti to announce the situation because we could play, but if we travel led and we had been in touch with our infected players, we could infect Everton.
“It was a big risk. Not just here. Around the world. The problem is still here but now we have disinfected, cleaned out the CFA and we take tests and hopefully they will all be negative. And hopeful the ones infected come back safe. In a few cases (of those tested) we still don’t have the results.
“We will follow what the Premier League will say. I know they are doing an incredible job with all the extra measures after the first lockdown.
“But take a look at Newcastle. I spoke to Steve Bruce and he explained how difficult it was for his club who has more than 20 people infected. It can happen here, at Fulham, anywhere around the world.
“There are many cases around the world. We are delighted to play games but at the same time we cannot ignore the reality that the virus is here and we don’t know exactly when you get it, but you can get it. That’s why we wear masks and social distance.”
The former Barcelona manager admitted that his side’s plans for the Chelsea clash have been affected, but is confident his players will be up to the challenge at Stamford Bridge.
“Well, you are less in touch with the players and are not in the locker room – they just see us on the pitch. It is what it is,” he added.
“We have a good squad to go there and try to compete against a tough opponent in Chelsea. But we go there to play our game with enthusiasm and good will. We try to do our job and do a good performance.”
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