Pep Guardiola revealed that Manchester City have endured fresh coronavirus cases ahead of Saturday’s title clash with Chelsea.
Guardiola and 20 other first-team players and staff were forced into self-isolation last week after a spate of positive cases.
John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Fernandinho all missed last week’s FA Cup win at Swindon Town.
The City manager was back to take training on Thursday but suggested that City are not clear of their outbreak. Saturday’s game at the Etihad Stadium is set to go ahead as scheduled.
‘We have some cases,’ Guardiola said. ‘They want privacy so I cannot tell you (who). Some are coming back but some are positive again.’
Some rivals, including Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, have claimed the way in which City have dealt with Covid and injuries has proved the difference as the champions built a 10-point lead at the top.
‘Are you saying that here in Manchester we are the smartest?’ Guardiola added. ‘That Omicron doesn’t visit us? We had a lot of cases and a lot of injuries.
‘We’re in the same situation as every other club. Injuries a bit less because our medical department is exceptional but we had a lot of Covid like the other clubs.
‘We are not smarter, wiser, or we do the protocols better. When the virus comes into the bubble, everyone suffers. We are not an exception.’
City can extend the gap between themselves and Chelsea to 13 points with victory this weekend and, while Guardiola was keen to place praise on his players, he divulged the difficulties for managers during the pandemic.
‘We always planned a little bit for the week ahead but (now) we take decisions on the day,’ he said. ‘It can be two hours before the training session or four hours before the game.’