Jurgen Klopp has been dealt a significant blow prior to the most important fixture of the season tomorrow against Man City in the Champions League, with Virgil Van Dijk and Dejan Lovren being the only two available centre backs after Joel Matip was ruled out for the rest of the season with a thigh injury.
The injury picked up by Matip during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace was initially thought not to be serious but scans revealed the Cameroonian centre half will require surgery and thus ruling him out for the foreseeable future.
With Ragnar Klavan also ruled out through a minor issue and Joe Gomez currently side-lined for another three weeks after sustaining an ankle injury during England duty, Matip’s absence couldn’t have come at a worse time for Liverpool.
Klopp does have 19 year-old Conor Materson as the only other fit centre back registered with the Champions League squad and with the limited options at his disposal, there is a chance the young defender may be involved with the squad tomorrow. Otherwise, Klopp will need to choose a wildcard.
Klopp had hoped to have Emre Can back in training and ready for the first-leg tomorrow but with the German yet to return, it’s very unlikely that he will feature unless he partakes this evening, with Klopp admitting it’ll take some “unexpected good news” for him to be fit.
There was slightly better news in regards to Adam Lallana, with the injury he suffered on Saturday not being as bad as was first feared and although there is no chance he plays in the upcoming weeks, he may have a role in the last few games of the season, while will certainly come as a boost for his World Cup hopes.
In other team news, Nathaniel Clyne is apparently in contention to start tomorrow but having not played a competitive game for over nine months, it would be risky throwing him into such a big occasion so expect Alexander-Arnold to retain his place at right-back.
With Emre Can likely to miss the game, captain Jordan Henderson is expected to start in midfield; picking up a yellow card however will result in him being suspended for the second leg, something he and Klopp will be desperate to avoid.
Although Matip’s injury has come at the worst possible time, if there is a final chance to show he can be a long-term option for the club, this is arguably the most important game of Dejan Lovren’s career and a chance to repay the faith Klopp has shown in him.
There is no doubt that tomorrow will be an amazing night and Anfield will be rocking. As Jurgen Klopp said in his press conference today: “We have to write our own history”.