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Joël Matip Left Off Squad to Face Plymouth Argyle

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With the threat of FIFA sanctions looming, Liverpool have left Joël Matip behind for tonight’s FA Cup match.

Wigan Athletic v Liverpool - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Despite speculation that Liverpool might risk playing Joël Matip before FIFA officially determines whether he is in fact eligible, ineligible, or if they need to open a lengthy investigation to determine whether he’s eligible, the club have decided to leave the play in Liverpool today as they travel to face Plymouth.

Ahead of the match, Jürgen Klopp had noted that for a player like Matip, who is returning from a long layoff, the club’s third round FA Cup replay against lower league Plymouth would make for a perfect reintroduction to competitive football. That fuelled talk that the club might take the risk and play the defender.

Having been told that they could face a fine or, potentially, expulsion from the FA Cup should they play Matip, though, Klopp decided to leave Matip on Anfield. The club hope that FIFA will rule on Matip’s case in time for him to face Swansea on the weekend, but if they choose to launch a full investigation it could take longer.

In more positive team selection news, Philippe Coutinho, recently returned from injury, did make the trip and is expected to at least make the bench again this evening. Lucas Leiva was also deemed fit enough to travel, though Nathaniel Clyne isn’t ready to return from a rib strain. He is expected to face Swansea.

As in the first match between the two sides, a young side is expected this evening, and there is a chance that 19-year-old Welsh international winger Harry Wilson could be in line to make his senior Liverpool debut.