Klopp asks for five substitutions to protect players amid record Covid-19 cases

Premier League announces a record 103 players and staff tested positive for coronavirus

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp is worried about the workload of players. EPA

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reiterated the need for five substitutions in the Premier League to protect players as a record number of Covid-19 cases were announced this week.

Main leagues in Europe have increased the number of substitutions per game to five to ease the load on players, but Premier League clubs voted against it.

Fifteen games in the English league have already been postponed this month due to coronavirus outbreaks, with a lack of available players forcing those not fully fit to play more minutes.

"You need 14 votes to change it - there's something wrong. As an example, I'm not sure how many Burnley players play international football. When our players have three games, they have no game," Klopp said on Monday.

"We are talking about an issue that some clubs and some players definitely have but it's decided by other teams. Because we make a competition of it, they say no. That's a real problem.

"The best league in the world, the most intense league in the world, is the only league with still three subs. That's not right, we should change it [but] I don't see a real chance to change it, to be honest."

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Klopp's complaint came as the Premier League revealed a record 103 players and staff tested positive for the virus during December 20 to 26.

A week ago, the English top-flight set a new high since testing began in 2020 with 90 positive cases. That mark has now been crossed as the Omicron variant takes its toll.

So far in December, 15 Premier League games have been called off, while the three divisions below the top tier have been decimated by postponements.

"The League can today confirm between Monday December 20 and Sunday December 26, 15,186 Covid-19 tests were administered on players and club staff. Of these, there were 103 new positive cases," a Premier League statement said.

"The safety of everyone is a priority and the Premier League is taking all precautionary steps in response to the impact of the Omicron variant."

Liverpool's game against Leeds, Watford's trip to Wolves and Burnley against Everton were all cancelled before their scheduled Boxing Day kickoffs. Arsenal's home match against Wolves on Tuesday was postponed on Sunday after an increase in case numbers among Wolves' squad.

Leeds' game with Aston Villa, scheduled for December 28, was also postponed on Sunday due to Leeds' continued Covid and injury issues.

Despite the rise in Covid cases and several postponements, Premier League chiefs last week opted against halting the season despite calls from some top-flight bosses for a break.

At the same meeting, clubs were told that games will go ahead if each team has 13 fit outfield players and a goalkeeper.

Six Premier League games did go ahead on Sunday in front of crowds despite Britain battling a significant rise in Covid cases.

No restrictions have yet been put in place for the size of crowds at matches in England, although supporters do have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Updated: December 27th 2021, 4:44 PM