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Football Reporting


Matip in fitness race for Manchester United game as Klopp delivers Liverpool injury update

The central defender has not played since December 27 and is not certain to return for the Premier League top-of-the-table match on Sunday

Liverpool defender Joel Matip will have to be assessed for fitness before Sunday’s crucial Premier League clash with Manchester United, says manager Jurgen Klopp.

Centre-back Matip has not played since the draw with West Brom on December 27 due to an adductor problem, one of several Liverpool first-team players afflicted by injury this season.

The German is back in training and could be fit for the top-of-the-table encounter, however, Klopp stopped short of giving a definitive answer on whether Matip will be involved.

Liverpool have been particularly stretched in central defence this season, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees. With Matip also out, midfielder and captain Jordan Henderson was forced into central defence for the 1-0 defeat to Southampton.

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Klopp is keen to get his skipper back into the midfield engine room, but not at the expense of rushing players back too soon after injury.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Klopp said: “Joel is close. Does it now make sense to throw him into a game with one or two sessions, which he didn’t do yet, but today and tomorrow he might be involved?

“To bring him [in], I don’t know. We have to see, we have to decide, we have to look at him and how he will train, how he looks in training and these kind of things, but we still have different solutions.

“Hendo is very important in midfield for us as well, so we just have to see. It’s not decided yet, why should I?”

One player who will definitely not feature against the Red Devils is midfielder Naby Keita, who has not played in 2021 yet due to an ankle injury.

Klopp said: “Naby is not ready for involvement. It’s not a big thing; it’s a little bit like with other players in the past when they came back from injuries and then because of the amount of games and situation in the squad they had to play.

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“Then a little injury happened again. Now we just had to put on the brake and say, ‘let’s settle it properly.’ In the moment we have alternatives in midfield, so we really try to give him all the time he needs to get 100 per cent fit. That’s the situation, so no, he is not in contention for Sunday.”

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