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Fabinho and Firmino selection boost should see duo start against Everton

There were originally increased worries that Brazilian duo Roberto Firmino and Fabinho wouldn’t be available in time for Liverpool’s Merseyside derby clash with Everton tomorrow afternoon.

The pair were a selection concern after strict testing conditions meant Liverpool couldn’t rely on both player’s involvement with both expected not to return to Melwood until Friday.

Due to safety protocol, they were required to undergo a test for COVID-19, which led to speculation that they could only be cleared to play in the derby on the morning of the game.

However, Jurgen Klopp was handed a major boost ahead of the 237th Merseyside derby after Firmino and Fabinho both featured in training on Thursday afternoon.

The Liverpool duo were selected for Brazil’s World Cup qualifying victory against Peru in the early hours of Wednesday morning yet both returned to Melwood the following day.

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This suddenly raises questions, including whether both are fit and available to start.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 28: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool and Fabinho of Liverpool warm up prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on September 28, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Both too important to leave out

Fabinho was an unused substitute during both of his national team fixtures during the break and his absence from manager Tite’s starting XI could work in Liverpool’s favour as the player described by Pep Lijnders as the team’s very-own ‘lighthouse’ will have returned fully rested both physically and mentally.

Firmino meanwhile, was withdrawn on the 70th-minute mark in midweek and previously benefited from two goals during the 5-0 victory against Bolivia last week.

If Klopp chooses to start both players it sends a strong message on just how indispensable Firmino and Fabinho have become to Liverpool’s dynamic.

Fabinho could thrive alongside both Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson, who are all available to start together for the first time this season. Liverpool were completely overrun in midfield against Aston Villa and Klopp will want to ensure such a meek surrender is never repeated.

While possible he could rest Firmino with Diogo Jota taking his place, the 29-year-old would be too great a risk to leave out of the team when you consider the off-the-ball qualities that could thrive with such a masterful midfield triumvirate behind him.

Arsenal’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette (C) vies with Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (L) and Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 28, 2020. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Firmino’s tactical acumen and positional intelligence will be required if Liverpool are to break down an Everton side who have won all four of their opening top-flight matches for the first time in 51 years.

Liverpool have a couple of alternative options, but none compelling enough to threaten both Firmino and Fabinho’s place in the starting XI.

Georginio Wijnaldum, could get the nod having started in all of Liverpool’s opening league matches although his performance against Villa was a huge concern and could see both Henderson and Thiago given greater precedence at the weekend.

Jota is also a player desperate to make his mark in the team having returned to Melwood off the back of a man-of-the-match performance for Portugal during a 3-0 win against Sweden which saw the former Wolves man score twice and register an assist.

But right now, at this moment, a game of such magnitude as Everton will require the experience of both Firmino and Fabinho to lay down a marker.


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