With Virgil van Dijk suspended, Joe Gomez out for at least the rest of the month, and Dejan Lovren left back at Anfield while the rest of the team left forMarbella and a warm weather training camp, Jürgen Klopp will face a selection headache against Bayern Munich.
Any hope that Lovren would find his fitness in time to face the Bundesliga giants appears gone today, with club connected reporter James Pearce suggesting that the 29-year-old Croatian is no closer to full health today than he was back at the start of the week.
Given he has now missed a month of action, even a late, rapid recovery would likely mean a player well short of match fitness. And that will mean that Jordan Henderson or Fabinho will be starting alongside Matip on Tuesday when Liverpool welcome Bayern to Anfield.
Fabinho might seem the more likely option for the Reds given he filled in at the position against Wolves in the FA Cup and was arguably Liverpool’s best player in a losing effort, but Henderson had been the one training to play there before a late knock ruled him out.
That could signal that, to Klopp’s thinking, Henderson is the preferred emergency option at centre half—with Fabinho being kept in his more usual midfield position to help screen the makeshift back line. Alternately, Fabinho would drop back and Henderson would screen.
More fanciful options, like a switch to a back three or a shock start for 17-year-old Dutch wonderkid Ki-Jana Hoever, are not likely—and whichever of Henderson or Fabinho starts will have spent the week training alongside Matip in expectation of doing just that.
For Klopp and Liverpool, it’s far from ideal, but at least there’s that—that the need for an emergency centre half substitute will not come as a surprise on matchday, and that there will have been ten days to prepare the players and team for whatever will happen.