Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful that defender Joel Matip will be back in contention to play against Manchester City, The Times reports.
The Premier League champions are currently three central defensive options short following recent injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Matip with the former expected to miss the rest of the season following a ruptured ACL.
Fabinho, 27, is expected to miss the next three weeks after the Brazilian picked up a hamstring problem during the 2-0 victory against FC Midtjylland in midweek leaving Joe Gomez as Klopp’s only available experienced centre-back available.
The Mirror had reported that the club had originally feared it was a serious injury for the Brazilian; a grade three tear would see the midfielder miss up to six months of football.
A scan on Thursday revealed that the injury was a “low grade” setback, meaning a three-four week lay-off is expected to follow – which is less serious than what the club initially feared.
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The Times report that Fabinho will miss the clash with West Ham as well as the trip to Atalanta next Tuesday. Klopp also confirmed that Liverpool will be without the former Monaco man for their gargantuan title bout with rivals Manchester City.
Fortunately for Liverpool, that encounter is followed by a two-week hiatus due to the international break, which will allow Fabinho to recover adequately before the Reds resume their title defence against Leicester City on November 21.
Matip back for City?
Matip’s return would be a huge boost for Liverpool although the Cameroonian defender has managed to play a full 90 minutes on just one occasion over the past 12 months.
The 29-year-old was forced to undergo a muscle scan after the 2-2 draw with Everton earlier this month and subsequently has missed the previous three matches for Liverpool.
However, the latest update does suggest that Klopp is hopeful that Matip will be back in time to play against City which is scheduled to take place a week from Sunday.
This could be huge for Liverpool as Klopp can ill-afford to risk throwing in a youngster at the deep end against the club’s biggest title rivals.
With so many injuries in recent weeks, Klopp has suggested he may have to turn to the likes of Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio to play alongside Gomez at the back.
Williams, 19, has been his most regular pick in recent weeks with the teenager clocking up four senior appearances so far this season. He is in contention to make his Premier League debut against West Ham on Saturday.
The former Kidderminster Harriers loanee can be expected to do a job alongside Gomez against the Hammers but throwing him up against Pep Guardiola’s City is another prospect entirely and would be wisely avoided.
If Matip can return in time for the trip to the Etihad Stadium, Liverpool’s chances of picking up three points would be greatly enhanced.
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