The Croatian defender has been on the sidelines for almost a month, missing Premier fixtures against Hull City and Tottenham as well the entirety of Liverpool’s two week “mini-preseason” in La Manga. Now ESPN's Glenn Price is reporting that team medical staff have sent the 27-year-old to Germany for special treatment and the Croatian is consequently a doubt for Monday’s clash with defending champions, Leicester City.
It is hardly news Jürgen Klopp will want to hear, as it means that, even despite the return of other big names in recent weeks from both the treatment table and international commitments, the Liverpool manager will still be unable to field his first choice XI, an option he last had in the 6-1 win over Watford in November.
Although Lovren has had an up-and-down season so far, his best performances have come alongside Joël Matip, with the lanky Cameroonian’s front-footed style allowing the ex-Southampton man to stay back and take the no-nonsense approach he prefers.
Despite a shaky resumption of the defensive partnership following Matip’s lengthy spell on the sideline due to injury and eligibility issues, a solid performance in stifling leaders Chelsea (save for Simon Mignolet’s bungling of a David Luiz free kick) showed signs that the German-speaking duo were on the way back to their imperious early season form.
Complicating matters is the fact that Klopp still appears to be undecided on his third-choice center back, as Mamadou Sakho’s self-induced exile from the team on loan to Crystal Palace has left the German oscillating between Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva for the much of the season, although the latter of whom, albeit did put in an excellent shift in corralling Tottenham’s Harry Kane in the recent win.
However, neither option will inspire much confidence among Liverpool fans as medium- to long-term options in the back four, and the hope will be that the news on Lovren’s knee over the next few days will not force extended cameos for the backups in the crucial run-in for Champions League places.