Liverpool’s pursuit of the top four continues this weekend, but Jurgen Klopp has yet more injuries to contend with.
The Reds welcome Crystal Palace this weekend as they look to put some distance between themselves and Manchester City in fourth place, but they will have to face the Eagles without three central defenders.
Speaking to the media on Thursday morning ahead of the Anfield fixture, Klopp revealed that Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva, who played in midfield against West Brom last week but has been used primarily as a defender this year, are all doubts for this weekend:
“Unfortunately not too positive.
“[We have] a few little things from the last game, it doesn’t make it much easier. Little bit muscle problems, Joel Matip, Lucas Leiva [and] still a problem with Ragnar Klavan.
“[Klavan] was a very, very small medial ligament, but could be also really not enough time until Crystal Palace.
“It’s not 100 per cent that Lucas cannot play, it’s not 100 per cent that Joel cannot play, it’s not 100 per cent that Ragnar cannot play.
“But they are not in training in the moment, so that’s not too cool.”
The absences mean that Joe Gomez is in line to start his first league game for the club since September 2015. The 19-year-old became Brendan Rodgers’ first-choice left-back almost immediately after signing from Charlton, but an ACL injury sustained in October of that year ended his season.
He has been making steady progress in his comeback since, and while his only first team involvement so far this season has been in the FA Cup. Klopp, however, has hinted that his time will come this weekend as a potential partner for Dejan Lovren should the aforementioned trio not make it.
“Joe Gomez played on Monday, U23, again [he] did well, made big steps in the last few weeks, so maybe we have to try this pair.
“We will see, I don’t know in the moment.”
With Sadio Mané ruled out for the rest of the season, Klopp has suggested that Jordan Henderson’s campaign for also be over. The Liverpool captain has still not returned to training having been out since February, and Klopp has revealed that there is no timeline set for his return:
“In this moment, he cannot really train, so we have to wait for this moment.
“This was the plan from the beginning and if we had something else to say about this, I would say it.
“Of course, we are in intense talks with different departments but we have to wait. He is already not patient anymore!
“It’s not cool, he looks really healthy, but he cannot play football.”
In more positive injury news, Adam Lallana has stepped up his own recovery. The midfielder has been out of action since picking up a groin injury on England duty but was pictured running on Thursday – and Klopp expects him to be back on training next week ahead of the clash with Watford:
“[He] should be involved – not sure exactly when – next week in normal training. Wednesday, Thursday, something like this.
“In our situation we have to think about a player when he starts [training], we will see.”
Work, sleep, repeat…. another good session completed. More still to do ? pic.twitter.com/jHiAdUTj7D
— Adam Lallana (@officialAL20) April 20, 2017
Palace, of course, will have their own defensive issues to contend with. Mamadou Sakho, a vital cog in the recent revival under Sam Allardyce, will miss the match as the Premier League rules state that he cannot play against his parent club. With Scott Dann absent and James Tomkins a major doubt, Damien Delaney and former Liverpool defender Martin Kelly are likely to be the central defensive partnership on Sunday.
On this week’s edition of the Mixer Irish football podcast, Neal Horgan joins us to discuss Colin Healy’s retirement and we catch up on the all the latest League of Ireland news.