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Covid-hit Standard Liege remain upbeat ahead of Europa League clash with Rangers

Derby County v Nottingham Forest – Sky Bet Championship – iPro Stadium
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Standard Liege boss Philippe Montanier has urged his coronavirus-hit side to take inspiration from Belgian rivals Club Brugge as they look to beat Rangers in the Europa League.

Three of Montanier’s squad plus a member of his backroom staff have tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of Thursday night’s clash with Steven Gerrard’s team.

Michel-Ange Balikwisha and Nicolas Raskin, who both started the team’s draw against Brugge at the weekend, as well as defender Moussa Sissako and goalkeeping coach Jan Van Steenberghe have all contracted the virus.

The quartet have all entered a period of isolation and will not be involved when the Light Blues visit Stade Maurice Dufrasne for the first match of the group stage.

In a brief statement on their website Standard also announced that Damjan Pavlovic and Abdoul Fessal Tapsoba would be kept away from the rest of the squad. The pair have both tested negative ahead of the match but share a house with Sissako and spent time with him on Tuesday.

But Montanier is taking heart from Brugge’s display in their Champions League opener against Zenit St Petersburg.

The Belgian champions were without former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Odilon Kossounou and Michael Kremencik after the trio all tested positive for coronavirus following the 1-1 draw with Standard on Saturday.

However, they still managed to stun Zenit in Russia with a 2-1 win and Montanier believes his side can repeat the trick against Gers.

“We are aware that in one week, the cases of coronavirus have exploded and we are no exception to the rule,” said Montanier at a press conference on Wednesday.

“We have our first but we also want to be careful. We know that people who live in the same household are not all positive. The players are very careful, whether at the club or outside, so we remain rather calm.

“The example of Club Brugge is a good example. The Brugeois left without three starters at Zenit and they won. It is a good omen. We would have preferred to have the absent players with us but, as always, it is the group which we have at present which will have to make up for the absentees.”