Liverpool could welcome back Thiago Alcantara for their clash with Newcastle on Wednesday evening, but are still sweating over the fitness of Joel Matip.
Thiago has been out of action since suffering a knee injury in the Merseyside derby in October, but has recently returned to training.
And the 29-year-old is now in line to be included in the matchday squad for the trip to St. James’ Park, with Goal reporting there is a chance the Spaniard could be involved after coming through the sessions unscathed.
The clash with Southampton on January 4 is a more realistic target for Thiago’s return, though Jurgen Klopp may be tempted into an earlier recall in light of Liverpool’s latest injury problems.
Matip is a doubt for the fixture with Newcastle after going off with a groin issue in Sunday’s draw against West Brom.
“Joel told me he felt something in his adductor and that’s obviously not too good,” said Klopp. “I am not sure how serious it is now, but it was serious enough that he had to leave the pitch. The rest of the information I will get tomorrow [Monday].”
Naby Keita missed the clash entirely after pulling out of contention in the build-up to the match.
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It’s been an extremely interesting start to the season for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
They got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds, before going on to conceded seven in a hammering by Aston Villa.
Virgil van Dijk’s season was ended by injury in the 2-2 draw at Everton, leaving the title favourites looking far less secure at the back – especially with Alisson’s injury worries too.
But there’s no slowing down in what is going to be a busy campaign – with Klopp ensuring his men continue at full pace as they bid for more title glory.
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“He felt a muscle again,” said Klopp of the midfielder. “I don’t know exactly how long, but he was not ready for [West Brom] and not for Wednesday, I think. We will see.”
Rhys Williams is the natural choice to fill in for Matip should he fail to prove his fitness in time, after the youngster was again called into action from the bench.
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But ex-Liverpool star Jamie Carragher believes his old club must now look to sign a new defender in the January transfer window to ease the injury burden.
“It’s a massive worry but it’s not a new worry,” he told Sky Sports. “Joel Matip will not play every game between now and the end of the season, you know that even before the injury today and that’s why it’s paramount Liverpool sign someone in January.
“Joel Matip is just too injury prone, his body can’t take the rigours of playing Premier League football week in week out. We know that since he joined.”