Sadio Mane will miss Liverpool’s trip to Aston Villa after he became the latest Reds player to test positive for COVID-19.
The Senegal forward is in self-isolation after his positive test, with Jurgen Klopp’s plans affected once more by the growing spectre of coronavirus.
According to the club, the reigning African Player of the Year has displayed minor symptoms of the virus but feels in good health overall.
Liverpool will already be without new signing Thiago Alcantara, whose positive COVID test was confirmed on Monday, and now Mane will join the Spaniard on the sidelines.
As with Thiago, the decision to publicise the positive test is down to the player. Liverpool say the club has followed all necessary protocols, though the news will, of course, lead to fears of further positive tests going forward.
It comes as fears of a second wave of coronavirus in the UK grow, with almost 7,000 new cases confirmed on Friday, as well as 66 deaths.
In football, Kilmarnock’s Scottish Premiership game with Motherwell on Friday was postponed, with the entire Killie squad entering a 14-day isolation period with six positive tests recorded at the club this week.
In the Premier League, 10 new cases were recorded in the latest round of testing. The likes of Ilkay Gundogan, the Manchester City midfielder, and West Ham manager David Moyes have all tested positive in recent weeks, despite stringent measures employed by clubs to ensure the risk is minimalised.
Mane’s absence against Aston Villa could mean Diogo Jota is handed his first Premier League start for Liverpool. The £45 million signing started the Carabao Cup defeat to Arsenal on Thursday and could now deputise on the left at Villa Park. Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi are Klopp’s other options.
The champions were boosted by the return to training of captain Jordan Henderson on Friday. The England midfielder had missed the last three games due to a thigh problem, but was able to take part in a session at Melwood and has a chance of being included in the 18-man squad on Sunday.
Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kostas Tsimikas will miss the game, along with Thiago and Mane.