Sheyi Ojo has been one of the standouts among the young guns pushing for a first team spot during Liverpool's preseason campaign, so it was slightly surprising that 19-year old was absent from both the match against Barcelona as well as today's contest against Mainz 05. Reports in the Liverpool Echo now suggest that the omission is not an indicator that Jürgen Klopp has made his mind up about whether to send the youngster out on loan. Surprise, surprise, it's a fitness issue.
Two things were clear about Klopp's emerging perspective on Ojo this preseason. The manager is quite enthusiastic about Ojo's potential, having stated that the youngster's future is "100 percent at Liverpool," but Klopp also realizes he needs to be careful about how he uses the midfielder, noting that "[he] has already had a few injuries, not the biggest but in the wrong place."
Now, Ojo is apparently dealing with discomfort in his back, and was held out of the weekend's fixtures to receive treatment at Melwood. Klopp will hope the issue is neither serious nor recurring, but it will likely dent Ojo's chances of staking a claim to a first team spot before Liverpool's season gets underway at the Emirates Stadium.
Already, James Milner and Daniel Sturridge are unlikely to be available to face Arsenal, having picked up knocks during, and in the lead up to, the Barcelona match. Those two join a not-exactly-insignificant list of Loris Karius, Lucas Leiva, Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez as likely absentees for the crucial opening weeks of the season.
Elsewhere, Dejan Lovren seems to have recovered enough from yesterday's activity to have been named to the bench for Mainz. And although Marko Grujic seemed to have turned his ankle during the match against the Bundesliga side, Klopp suggested afterwards that the injury would not be serious. Liverpool supporters will hope that Klopp is right, as the match against Arsenal is starting to resemble a contest between the walking wounded for both clubs.