Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers axed James Maddison, Hamza Choudhury and Ayoze Perez from his squad to face West Ham on Sunday due to breaches of Covid regulations.
The trio were not present for the 3-2 loss at the London Stadium, in which Jesse Lingard’s first-half double gave the Hammers a platform that allowed them to get the win, despite a brace from Kelechi Iheanacho in the second period.
The defeat leaves Leicester third in the Premier League but suddenly vulnerable in the Champions League race after their key rivals outside the top four all picked up victories.
Maddison, Choudhury and Perez were left out of the squad for the weekend’s match after unspecified breaches of the protocol.
Rodgers gave little away when speaking to Sky Sports pre-match, but did say: "They're not available for this game, but they'll join the group next week and be available for the semi-final."
After the game, he said: "It was a decision I made, an internal situation last weekend, It is not the standard we expect. They are all good guys, good lads, but we have a standard on and off the pitch that we have to adhere to.
"The boys will rejoin the group after this game. It's internal, it's something we have dealt with. The boys, it's disappointing behaviour, it's a mistake. It's not what we are about.
"We have a set of values for the team, for this football club. The players in the main have been great but they will rejoin the group next week."
How did the club react?
In a statement made to the Telegraph, a Leicester spokesman said: “The club has made its expectations around adherence to Covid-19 protocols abundantly clear to all its personnel.
“It is extremely disappointing, therefore, to learn of a breach that had the potential to undermine the efforts of club staff to protect the environments in which our teams train and play. Appropriate measures have been taken to prevent our team bubbles being compromised.
“We wholly expect our people to behave in a way that reflects the national effort and the sacrifices made by our communities to control the spread of the virus. Those involved have apologised for their poor judgement. Our response to the matter will be concluded internally.”
The bigger picture
The UK is in the process of loosening lockdown protocols due to a drop in Covid cases in the community, but there remains an expectation of role models such as footballers to strictly adhere to protocols put in place.