Pep Guardiola has revealed Manchester City will be without five players against Chelsea on Sunday due to positive coronavirus tests.
City’s Premier League clash with Everton was postponed at late notice on Monday as it emerged there were a number of coronavirus cases within the club.
Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus tested positive for COVID-19 on Christmas Day and three more unnamed players are now self-isolating as well as two staff members.
All five of the City stars will be unavailable for selection for Sunday’s Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge, but the game is still expected to go ahead.
Guardiola said at a press conference: “It was four people – (including) two players – the first time and then three more.”
The City boss added that the club were not yet in a position to reveal the identities of the three latest players to test positive.
He said: “I don’t think the Premier League allow us to name the players but you will know tomorrow.”
Pressed on why this was the case, Guardiola said: “We have to respect the privacy of the players maybe.
“You will see the line-ups and three important players not there, so you will know exactly but I’m not allowed to tell you.”
Everton were unhappy at the cancellation of Monday’s game and and released a terse statement demanding full disclosure of all the information that City provided to the Premier League which led to the call off.
But Guardiola hit back at the Merseyside club, as he insisted his team was ready to play and there was little alternative but to postpone the match as the positive tests came through late.
He said: “We had enough players to play against Everton. We wanted to play but on the day of the game, with more cases, we informed the Premier League.
“I personally called (Everton manager) Carlo Ancelotti to explain the situation because the day before we were in touch about what would happen and the huge risk.
“I preferred the statement from Carlo Ancelotti than the statement from the club.
“We would have loved to play the game but, wisely, the Premier League decided for the welfare of everyone not to increase the cases.”
Sunday’s clash with Chelsea looks likely o go ahead, however.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said in his press conference on Friday: “I haven’t been given the chances of the game being postponed this weekend, I’m just aware of the situation. At the moment the game is on.
“Manchester City had some positives within their training ground. We have had a couple ourselves, but not on the playing staff. That’s the current situation.”
When asked how safe players and staff feel in the current climate, Lampard said: “Generally probably as safe as the public because of the new surge in numbers we’re seeing.
“But we are in a more protected environment, certainly in the workplace. We’re now being tested twice a week and that’s really important. I don’t understand why we went down to one because two is important.
“It seems to me that the situation at the moment is that we go game by game. Games are being called off because of positive tests around the game itself and I understand that. Let’s see how it goes because these are uncertain times.”