Joel Matip is training again as he continues his return from injury. The defender has been out since January.
It appears Joel Matip is making good progress as he started training again this week. This comes as he recovers from a serious ankle injury.
We don’t expect Matip to play again this season but this at least suggests he’s well on course for a full recovery. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are yet to start training again, for comparison.
Matip picked up an ankle injury in January and it effectively ruled him out for the rest of the season. That was a huge problem for Liverpool, of course.
Van Dijk and Gomez were already out, leaving Matip as the sole senior centre-half in Liverpool’s squad. The Reds needed him, only for bad luck to strike once again.
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That prompted a double signing on winter deadline day as Liverpool brought in both Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies. Though, only the former has played.
What’s the future for Joel Matip?
Matip is in a strange spot when he eventually does return to first-team action. A lot will depend on his overall fitness compared to other options.
And there may be quite a few options by then.
The Sunday World claims Liverpool plan to sign both Kabak and Ibrahima Konate this summer. That would leave them with five first-team options for their two centre-back spots.
And with everyone fit, we imagine Matip would retain his spot as third-choice at the back. Van Dijk and Gomez would be one and two, with the newer duo waiting for their turn.
But it’s doubtful that everyone is fit. Three of them are recovering from serious injuries, after all.
And Matip’s recent injury history doesn’t bode well for his future. Before, he could have a spell out but return to being third-choice.
Now, however, there are two younger players who would take his spot. It’s very easy to slip down that pecking order and when your rivals are eight years younger, you may never get that spot back.
Working in Matip’s favour, though, is that he appears to be making good progress. If he’s back first, he gets the jump on Van Dijk & Gomez and would potentially be Liverpool’s no.1 centre-back for a while.
It’s little advantages like that which will help players get games next season. Because on the face of it, competition at the back will be fierce.