Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders feels Thiago Alcantara’s positive coronavirus test has highlighted the structure and discipline of the club’s testing protocols.
The Reds on Tuesday announced that midfielder Thiago had tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating.
When asked about the recent signing from Bayern Munich ahead of Thursday’s Carabao Cup fourth-round home clash with Arsenal, Lijnders said: “It shows again that health and family are the most important things in life.
“We wish him a speedy recovery, but I wish everyone who is fighting the virus at the moment a speedy recovery, and hope everything goes well.”
When then asked if there was complete confidence with regard to the protocols at Liverpool, Lijnders said: “That’s why it is a big compliment to our structure, first and foremost because we have testing in place by the Premier League, but we also do private testing.
“The most important thing is keeping discipline, and we are following these discipline rules, and we test immediately when something happens. It’s all OK.”
Another player who will not be involved on Thursday is skipper Jordan Henderson, who has been absent since sustaining a knock in the 2-0 win at Chelsea on September 20.
Lijnders said: “Jordan we will re-evaluate on Friday after this game to look if he is ready for [Sunday’s Premier League trip to] Villa, at least to train with us.”
Liverpool also have Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain unavailable due to injury, and Kostas Tsimikas is sidelined as well having picked up a thigh issue in last week’s 7-2 third-round win at Lincoln.
“We thought it would settle but it didn’t and he will need a few more days and the international break as well, so he will not be involved in both games,” Lijnders said of Tsimikas.
Lijnders has also spoken in support of Liverpool’s 19-year-old full-back Neco Williams, who reportedly received online abuse after the Lincoln match.
Lijnders said: “First of all, Neco is a doer, and doers make mistakes. We don’t want safe play, a player who doesn’t take risks. Our game is based on everyone taking the initiative from each position, and that is what we want.
“One of the most important lessons for each young boy who is coming through, each player, is that it is a weakness if you can get caught up in praise and criticism. I think he dealt with it really well, to be honest.
“We had players speaking with him, we had our manager speaking with him, and it is also a phase he goes through.”
Liverpool host Arsenal again three days on from beating them 3-1 at Anfield in the Premier League, and Lijnders added: “It’s a completely different context in which we are going to play this game, and it’s a proper win or lose, of course.
“What Mikel instilled at Arsenal and what all good teams in Europe and in the Premier League have is a clear identity. So with changing players or whatever, it stays the same. They will try to improve, for sure, but that’s the same for us.”