EFL 'reluctantly' postpone Liverpool match with doubts raised over Reds' inability to field a team

Controversial decision questioned as EFL sanction postponement due to COVID outbreak in Liverpool squad.

The EFL have confirmed they have 'reluctanctly' agreed to postpone Liverpool's Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg against Arsenal this week.

Liverpool were missing manager Jurgen Klopp, Alisson Becker, Joel Matip, and Roberto Firmino due to COVID when they drew 2-2 at Chelsea last week, and have since lost assistant manager Pep Ljinders to the virus too.

They have also claimed further positive cases since that game have forced them to close their training ground and left them unable to field a team at The Emirates.

The EFL said: "Having now fully reviewed the circumstances involved, the League has accepted Liverpool's request after determining, albeit reluctantly, that a postponement was the only option as the club looks to mitigate against the further risk of infection amongst its squad and staff alongside ensuring public health was protected by not travelling from Liverpool to London."

In addition to COVID cases, Liverpool are also missing Thiago Alcantara, Takumi Minamino, Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott through injury while Mohamed SalahSadio Mane and Naby Keita are at the Africa Cup of Nations.

"We would like to place on record our thanks to the EFL and Arsenal for their understanding, as well as supporters of both clubs, as we continue to navigate through this challenging period," the Merseyside club said.

However, many have questioned the decision, pointing out that Liverpool have used 32 players in all competitions this season, so it would take a severe further outbreak to render them unable to send out a team for the fixture.

There have also been doubts raised over whether those players away at the Africa Cup of Nations should be allowed to count towards their list of absentees.

In the 2019 competition, Liverpool fielded a team with the average age of 19 years and 182 days in the quarter-final against Aston Villa with the entire first team squad unavailable due to Club World Cup commitments.

Under-23s boss Neil Critchley led the side that day with the senior coaching staff all unavailable.

The game has been rescheduled for January 20 and it will now form the second leg of the tie.

The first leg is due to take place on January 13.

READ MORE: Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool are going to end another season empty-handed, claim bookies

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