Manchester City duo Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus were tested for coronavirus, the club confirmed on Friday.
Two members of the club’s staff, whose identity was not revealed, also had a positive test.
Defender Walker and striker Jesus will now appear to miss City’s Premier League against Newcastle, Everton and Chelsea, and a return is possible for their Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester United on January 6th.
“All four staff will now observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with the Premier League and the UK government’s quarantine protocol,” City said in a statement issued Friday morning.
“Everyone at the club wishes our colleagues a speedy recovery during the Christmas period before returning to work, training and competition.”
The positive tests, announced on Christmas, come as the UK faces an increase in coronavirus cases, with 39,036 confirmed on Thursday marking the second-highest daily total since the pandemic began.
The figure brought the total number of confirmed cases since the 2,188,587 pandemic began.
Clubs in the Premier League under the level 4 restriction for coronavirus, whose number will increase on Boxing Day, said that they will start conducting tests twice a week – compared to the previous individual check – as soon as it is practically possible.
From next month, intensified testing will be extended to clubs in the lower areas, which would currently include Manchester, with the city at the third level.
The absence of the duo is a major blow to City during the crowded holiday season. Assistant host Pep Guardiola Newcastle on Boxing Day, before traveling to Everton at Goodison Park just 48 hours later.
City then had a six-day lead before the trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea, but should still be left without a duo who are required to self-isolate 10 days from the date of the positive test.
Both Walker and Jesus participated, and the final goal was scored while City booked their place in the Carabao Cup semi-final with a 4-1 win at Arsenal on Wednesday, and they should clear the quarantine in time to be available to meet Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Guardiola made it easier for Sergio Aguero to return to first team action as the Argentine recovers from a knee injury, but City’s record-breaking scorer may now be forced to put more strain than planned.
Joao Cancelo is likely to take up the position of right-back in Walker’s absence, while candidates Benjamin Mendy and Oleksandr Zinchenko will take the place of the left-back that the Portuguese defender has often filled in recent weeks.