Manchester City will be without five players for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Chelsea due to positive tests for coronavirus, Pep Guardiola has confirmed as he defended the decision to postpone Monday’s clash with Everton.
City revealed there had been four positive cases at the club on Christmas Day, including for players Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus.
A further round of testing found three more cases among the City squad on Monday, leading to the match being called off just four hours before kick-off.
“Five players are isolating for 10 days,” said Guardiola on Friday. “Some of them, the first cases that were released, it was four people – two players – and three more the second time.
City have not revealed the identity of the other three players to test positive, who will also miss Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final against Manchester United.
“I don’t think the Premier League allow us to name the players but you will know [on Sunday],” Guardiola said.
The decision to postpone the Everton match attracted some criticism as City did have the required 14 fit senior players by Premier League rules to fulfil the fixture.
Everton said they would be seeking clarification from the league authorities on how the postponement came about.
However, Guardiola highlighted the risk of his players passing on the virus to Everton’s squad.
“We wanted to play but on the day of the game, with more cases, we informed the Premier League,” Guardiola said.
“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.
“It was a huge risk, because it’s not about what happens here in Manchester City, it’s about what happens all around the world.
“People are unfortunately dying all around the world and in the UK. Unfortunately, the problem is still here. Hopefully the next tests everyone is negative and the people who are positive right now can come back without a problem.”
City’s training ground was temporarily closed, but reopened on Wednesday after no more new cases were detected from another round of testing.
A full round of Premier League matches is scheduled to go ahead this weekend, starting on Friday.