Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has threatened to withdraw players from international matches this month if there is a chance they will have to quarantine on their return under coronavirus rules.
Arrivals in Britain from “Red List” countries are subject to 10 days’ hotel confinement, which would apply to Brazilian trio Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho and Portugal forward Diogo Jota.
World governing body FIFA has given clubs dispensation to prevent players who may be affected by the regulations from joining up with their countries for the matches, which include World Cup qualifiers.
And Klopp fully intends to apply it, saying: “I think all the clubs agree that with the same problems we cannot just let the boys go and then sort the situation when they come back by placing our players in 10-day quarantine in a hotel, it is just not possible.
“I understand the needs of the different FAs [football associations] but this is a time where we cannot make everyone happy and we have to admit the players are paid by the clubs so it means we have to be first priority.”
Alisson is set to return to the side for the visit of Chelsea on Thursday after missing the win at Sheffield United as he was mourning the death of his father in a swimming accident in Brazil, while Fabinho could also return to a depleted defence after four games out through injury.
Sixth-placed Liverpool, who are one point behind Chelsea in the race for top-four spots, have not won at home since mid-December as their title defence has collapsed.
Chelsea are still unbeaten under new boss Thomas Tuchel and Klopp is aware of the size of the task facing his side.
Tuchel was Klopp’s successor at both Mainz and Borussia Dortmund and there is plenty of admiration between the German coaches.
“We’ve known each other for a long time, he worked for Mainz as I did, he worked for Dortmund as I did, so a lot of people we know are the same,” said Klopp.
“I think he is an outstanding coach and it will be tricky to play his team like it always was.”
Tuchel described his compatriot as “always super funny and very, very interesting” but both men will be concentrated on the job at hand of qualifying for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.
“A week ago we were out now we’re around it again,” said Klopp after Liverpool took advantage of dropped points by Chelsea and West Ham last weekend to get back to winning ways at Sheffield United.
“The challenge and job is clear. We have to win games and as many as possible to make it. We know that.”