When the fixtures pile up around the turn of the year there’s a decent chance that little injury issues within the squad will begin the stack up. Jürgen Klopp has rotated his team through December but unfortunate injuries at the heart of Liverpool’s defense mean the manager has been forced to get creative with his team sheets.
Joe Gomez is still out but expected to begin training soon, having mostly recovered from a leg fracture he suffered against Bournemouth in early December. Dejan Lovren is also absent due to a pulled hamstring.
But there’s good news coming out of Klopp’s pre-Brighton & Hove Albion press conference concerning Liverpool’s threadbare back line. Joël Matip has rejoined full training and could potentially be included in the match day squad on Saturday against Brighton.
“Joel trained yesterday for the first time with the team, which is already really good but we have to see,” said Klopp.
“We have to decide it day by day how he is doing, I am not 100 per cent sure. He feels good and that’s good for us, of course.
Jordan Henderson has also returned to the Melwood turf for Friday’s training following a period of recuperation for an injury he sustained at Manchester City.
“Hendo will train today for the first time, we see what that then means exactly. Adam [is] out, Dejan [is] out and Joe, of course, [is] out.
“All are improving obviously, that’s clear. I don’t know if a few are available and for a few I know they are not available, so that’s the situation.”
The day’s training session will illuminate Klopp on his options for the trip to Brighton. If the manager is not confident enough that Matip can play the entire ninety minutes then we should expect Fabinho to partner Virgil van Dijk at the back.
Every match in the Premier League is a difficult match to win but, with respect to Brighton, if you’re going to have a make-shift defensive partnership you’ll want it to at least be against a team in the bottom half of the table.
After this weekend things start looking up for Liverpool’s fitness. Matip will surely be in contention for a starting position against Crystal Palace on January 19th. Then Gomez should emerge again. And beyond that we have Lovren. The Croatian’s timeline for recovery is unknown but Klopp spoke somewhat optimistically about Lovren’s situation.
“It is serious otherwise he would play,” Klopp said, “but it is not that serious. It is a muscle thing and I would expect him back after maybe Crystal Palace, I am not sure. We have to see.”
So, one day soon Liverpool will have all their centre-backs fit and healthy. But today is not that day. Still, Klopp has enough talent in the squad to get a win on Saturday and we should expect a response from the first-team after whatever that was against Wolves on Monday.