The festive fixture pile-up has taken a toll on many a Premier League team. Liverpool have had a few players out since the autumn but recently a couple more in Jürgen Klopp’s squad have been sent to the treatment table.
Naby Keita was supposed to start the match against Sheffield United on Thursday but something bad happened in the warm-up and the Guinean was replaced in the XI by James Milner. Keita’s issue is a groin injury that could be a blow for the run of good form he’s been in lately.
Klopp admitted in his pre-Everton press conference on Friday that Keita would definitely miss the derby and anything beyond that is still a big question mark.
“[We are] not wiser with Naby [yet] because he will have a scan today, I don’t know exactly when but somebody will then tell me the result of this,” said Klopp.
“That didn’t happen yet.”
Of Liverpool’s other injured, the manager had more positive feedback. Xherdan Shaqiri, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joël Matip, Dejan Lovren, and Fabinho have all been unavailable for selection but fortunes could be looking up for them in the near future. Klopp will wait until the fixture frenzy officially passes before reintroducing and any of his recovered players into the mix.
“I spoke pretty much to all of them in the last minutes,” Klopp said. “They all look good.
“Shaqiri looks good; in a good way, will not be available for [Sunday] but looks good. Oxlade looks good. Joel looks good. Dejan Lovren, spoke last night, looking good. Fabinho out on the pitch doing the running stuff.
“They are really all in a good way, our only problem is the games are coming so quick, that’s why there’s no real news. Most of them will not be available for [Sunday].
“But then from today on we have eight days until the next game, so we will see what’s then possible.”
Getting any one of these injured players back into the squad will be a great boost to the team. Knowing that Fabinho is out there “doing the running stuff” is terrific news. And if both of Matip and Lovren are truly on the cusp of a return to action then Klopp’s centre-back storm will have been successfully weathered.