After failing to return for the second half of Netherlands’ loss to France in World Cup qualifying, Georginio Wijnaldum has today been sent back to Liverpool to undergo scans on his damaged hamstring. Though news of the severity of the damage won’t be learned until tomorrow at the earliest, this serves as confirmation that it is more than simply a minor knock or strain.
The hope had been that the player would return to Melwood and that a scan would not be required, the damage slight enough he might even remain in contention to play on Monday against Manchester United. That best case scenario hasn’t come to pass. Wijnaldum is now certain to miss Monday’s match, and likely a few beyond that even if results of the scan are largely positive.
In his absence, Emre Can is a lock to return to midfield, and with Jordan Henderson having established himself as the number six in Jürgen Klopp’s 4-3-3, Can’s role is likely to be to slot straight in for Wijnaldum as one of the more advanced, box-to-box midfielders to either side of Liverpool’s captain. Who plays opposite him is now the only remaining question ahead of Monday.
That’s because after being listed as doubtful to face United last week, Adam Lallana’s chance of being ready for Monday have reportedly improved. The England international isn’t back in full training, but it’s hoped that the longer break before Monday’s game will give him enough time to return to full fitness before then. If he isn’t ready, though, Klopp will have a choice to make.
If Lallana and Wijnaldum are both out, the Liverpool manager will have to decide if he is comfortable playing Philippe Coutinho as an eight against Manchester United—or if perhaps the more conservative approach of brining Lucas Leiva or Kevin Stewart in and shifting Henderson forward is more prudent against an opponent who are like Liverpool targeting a top four finish.