Jurgen Klopp’s assistant Pep Lijnders believes it is “absurd” to force Premier League teams to play two games in the space of 48 hours amid rising coronavirus cases.
The Premier League clubs convened on Monday to determine whether fixtures on December 28, 29 and 30 should be pushed back.
Their meeting followed a raft of postponements across recent matchdays, with Liverpool’s enthralling 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday one of only four top-flight matches to go ahead last weekend as clubs were hit by coronavirus cases within their squads.
However, a decision was reached to play the games over the busy festive period, despite concerns from a number of clubs, including Liverpool.
The Reds face Leicester City – who have had their past two league matches postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak – in an EFL Cup quarter-final on Wednesday, before they take on Leeds United at Anfield in an early kick-off on Boxing Day.
Thiago Alcantara will miss this afternoon’s Premier League fixture with Tottenham Hotspur after registering a suspected positive test for COVID-19.
Jordan Henderson is also absent because of illness, but has registered a negative test for COVID-19.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 19, 2021
Liverpool then travel to Leicester for a league meeting with Brendan Rodgers’ side on Tuesday.
Asked about the decision in a news conference on Tuesday, Lijnders said: “Jurgen made this point really clear. We really think we have to protect our players.
“We think it’s absurd that we have to play inside 48 hours because there’s a much higher risk of injury and the quality will not be as good. The moment we lose players, we have to push players through, the risk becomes bigger.
“The teams who want to play, you have to ask them in these circumstances, but I think it would be a wise decision, especially with the COVID cases here being this fresh.
“We always make recommendations. Each year, we speak with the Premier League, FA, the refs and we give our honest opinion to improve the quality of the game. That’s what we did in this meeting.
“We love to work in England. The Premier League, the intensity, the quality, we love it, but we all have to respect recovery. If you want a quality game, it’s important that the players don’t accumulate fatigue because if our players are more fatigued, they are not as brave, not as creative, not as spontaneous.”
Lijnders also believes the Premier League should be consulting with scientists over the possibility of pausing the competition as cases in the United Kingdom surge upwards.
“For me, the experts are not the managers. The experts are the scientists and doctors, and they should be asked by the Premier League,” he said.
“They should ask them, not the CEOs or managers. Health always comes at position number one. The people going to hospital now, they only want one thing: to get better.
“In life you always want a lot of things but when you’re sick you only want one thing and that’s getting better. We are in this job to protect all players, all staff, all their family members.”
Lijnders also confirmed Virgil van Dijk, Curtis Jones, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara were all still out following positive COVID-19 tests.
“We will not rush them back; we are going to take our time. This virus is really unpredictable. We have to see if they get sick,” he said.