Standard Liege v Rangers: Belgians without several players for Europa League clash after Covid-19 tests

Standard Liege’s preparations for their upcoming Europa League clash against Rangers have been rocked after a number of positive coronavirus cases were recorded among the first-team squad.

A general view of Standard Liege players training before a Europa League match
A general view of Standard Liege players training before a Europa League match

Three players and one coach have tested positive for Covid-19 while two other players are self-isolating as a precaution.

The players affected are reported to be Michel-Ange Balikwisha, Nicola Raskin, and Moussa Sissako. Damjan Pavlovic and Abdoul Fessal Tapsoba both tested negative but live with Sissako and have been excluded from the group “pending the results of a new test”.

Goalkeeping coach Jan van Steenberghe has also tested positive.

A statement from the Belgian club read: “On Tuesday morning, the entire squad underwent a Covid-19 test ahead of Thursday's European match against Rangers.

"The results received this morning indicate that Michelangelo, Nicolas, Moussa and Jan are positive.

“The quartet went directly to quarantine and will therefore not participate in the matches this Thursday against Rangers FC and this Sunday at STVV.”

How will Standard be affected?

Central midfielder Raskin is probably the biggest loss – the 19-year-old has one goal and four assists from 11 appearances in all competition so far this term, and has completed at least the full 90 minutes in all but two of those matches.

Balikwisha has two goals and two assists from six games in the Jupiler Pro League and European matches. Both assists came in the 3-1 European victory over Fehervar of Hungary, while he scored in back-to-back games against Zulte Waregem in a 2-2 draw, and Charleroi in a 2-1 win. The versatile forward can operate in a variety of positions.

Defender Sissako, who is on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, has yet to feature for the Belgian club. His only involvement to date was as an unused substitute for the 2-1 win at Charleroi earlier this month.

Pavlovic and Tapsoba have been used sparingly so far this season – the former has played just 62 minutes, in a 2-1 home win against Kortrijk, while the latter has had two outings from the bench against Cercle Brugge on the opening day of the season, and Beerschot at the end of August, with his only start coming against Charleroi earlier this month.

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