Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Jordan Henderson will be out for at least three weeks after the Liverpool club-captain picked up a hamstring injury during the 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid.
The 29-year-old skipper left the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium towards the end of the European affair and was seen leaving the stadium limping through the mixed zone on the way to the team coach.
The England international underwent a scan this morning to work out the extent of Henderson’s hamstring problem which Klopp confirmed is not as worse as first feared.
“Hendo could have been worse”, the German manager confirmed in his Friday afternoon press conference.
“He will be out for three weeks or so which is not cool but we still see it as lucky.”
What does this do to the team’s shape?
With Henderson sidelined for the next few weeks there is a silver lining for some of Liverpool’s fringe players who will be hoping for the opportunity to showcase their talents during the business end of the season.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been hugely influential since the turn of the new year following a number of impressive performances both in midfield as well as in the front-three showcasing the Englishman’s versatility to his German manager.
The former Arsenal star has started in all of Liverpool’s previous six league matches for the first time since trading the Emirates Stadium for Anfield for a fee of £40m [BBC Sport] in 2017.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is the Reds’ highest-scoring midfielder this season with seven goals in 30 appearances and could be reinstated to the starting XI against West Ham after coming off the bench against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Naby Keita is another who will desperate for a sustained run of matches in the team. The Guinean international started a Premier League fixture for the first time in five weeks following his 70-minute cameo in the 1-0 victory against Norwich City last weekend.
The 25-year-old playmaker offers Klopp something different in his team and Keita’s elegance in midfield gives the Reds another element in the attack. There was a moment in the first half where he danced around three Norwich players and found teammate Mohamed Salah in the box whom Keita has shared an intricate understanding in recent weeks.
Keita – who joined the club for a £58m fee [Express] – showcased that he is tantalisingly close to becoming an integral part to Klopp’s midfield if he is to once again build momentum and remain clear of injury. Before the former RB Leipzig star sustained muscle damage in the warm-up against Sheffield United last month, Keita had three goals in the space of 11 days during the Christmas period and was beginning to showcase what he could do if given the appropriate time to gather steam.
In some ways, this epitomises Keita’s time at Anfield since joining the club in 2018. He’s capable of doing the right things and capable of doing great things but there is always a setback waiting to hamper any built-up progress.
With Liverpool still competing on three separate fronts this season with two trophies already on lockdown in the Anfield cabinet, Henderson’s injury coupled with the games coming thick-and-fast for Klopp’s English champions-elect Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain can be certain to play a role in the weeks to come.