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Plymouth Argyle vs. Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp's Key Pre-Match Presser Comments

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2017

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp reacts during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 15, 2017. / AFP / Oli SCARFF / 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 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has stated is it "difficult to accept" FIFA's decision not to give defender Joel Matip international clearance ahead of Wednesday's FA Cup replay with Plymouth Argyle. The Reds boss also confirmed at his press conference that 19-year-old Harry Wilson is in contention for the clash. 

In a statement on Liverpool's official website on Sunday, it was confirmed Matip had been withdrawn from the squad to face Manchester United as the club were unsure whether or not he was eligible.

Klopp sought to clarify the club's position on a complicated matter, per Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo:

Ian Doyle @IanDoyleSport

JK on Matip: I don't want to blame anyone. But the fans deserve to know the process we are in. We're sure us & Matip done nothing wrong.

Ian Doyle @IanDoyleSport

JK: I would consider lining up with Matip but I don't know if I can. Sports side, nothing wrong.

Ian Doyle @IanDoyleSport

JK: FIFA will decide on Friday whether they will open a case or not (about Matip).

Matip was initially included in Cameroon's 25-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations before stating that he did not want to play. He was then omitted from the final 23-man party.

"The Cameroon Football Federation have failed to confirm that Matip can therefore play club football during the period of the Africa Cup of Nations," Liverpool's statement read.

Matip was pulled out of the Liverpool squad on Sunday.
Matip was pulled out of the Liverpool squad on Sunday.GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

The centre-back, who has impressed when part of the Reds lineup, has not played for the national team since 2015. 

Klopp outlined just how many games the player could miss as a result of the issue:

Ian Doyle @IanDoyleSport

JK: Joel is not happy about it. I told him before United game 'sorry, I can't pick you'.

Ian Doyle @IanDoyleSport

JK: We aren't only club in this situation. Schalke, West Brom same. Goalkeeper at Ajax too.

Ian Doyle @IanDoyleSport

JK: Now we have to wait on fit player. He's not played for Cameroon in 16 months. It's difficult to accept at the moment.

It means Matip is unlikely to be involved in Wednesday's clash at Home Park, which will be a vital game for the Reds.

Klopp fielded the club's youngest-ever starting XI in the original tie at Anfield, but Liverpool were left frustrated by an obdurate defensive display from the fourth-tier outfit.

However, the manager suggested there could be some more fresh faces involved, including Wilson, per the club's official Twitter account:

Liverpool FC @LFC

Klopp on Harry Wilson: "He's a wonderful young player. He's part of our thoughts for this game." #PLYLIV https://t.co/wBH0kYIVFP

The pressure will be on Liverpool to turn over their humble opponents at what should be a raucous Home Park. Nevertheless, the Reds manager said there won't be too many changes from the team who were involved in the first meeting between the two sides.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15:  Liverpool Manager / Head Coach Jurgen Klopp looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on January 15, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty
James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

"We had a lot of good reasons to line up like we did," he said, per Liam Prenderville of the Daily Mirror. "That will be the same on Wednesday. We want to win the game and go through. Probably, it will be different to the team we had in the first game—but that isn't 100 per cent."

The manager also offered updates on who will start at right-back and between the sticks for this trip to the south coast:

Liverpool FC @LFC

Klopp on Clyne's bruised rib: "After scans, we know there's nothing else. We will give him time to get comfortable and running." #PLYLIV https://t.co/8NlaVC1icL

Liverpool FC @LFC

Which goalkeeper will face Plymouth? Klopp: "If nothing happens, Loris." #PLYLIV https://t.co/Q4jggqRe0l

Naturally, in the aftermath of the 0-0 draw in the first meeting, much of the focus was on Liverpool's toiling youngsters, although Klopp took the opportunity to praise Argyle ahead of the replay and, even with a packed end to the month, said it's a match he is looking forward to.

"It was a concentrated defensive performance," the German said. "They deserve plenty of credit. It is up to us. We have possibilities to speed up the game, which will be different. The atmosphere will be good."

Additionally, Klopp was also asked about the plight of Manchester City and Manchester United after the results in the Premier League on Sunday, although he wasn't keen to discuss their prospects, per Tony Barrett of Joe.co.uk:

Tony Barrett @TonyBarrett

Jurgen Klopp is asked if the Manchester clubs can still have a say in the title race. "Especially about this I do not care," he says.

The frustration the Liverpool manager felt in regards to Matip is understandable, and his angst seems to stem from the uncertainty over whether or not he can play. Given the defender has endured recent injury issues, this kind of contest would have been ideal to help him rediscover full fitness, and it's evident some clarity is needed.

It is going to be fascinating to see what XI Klopp chooses, and many tied to the club will be excited about seeing Wilson potentially make his first-team bow.

The Liverpool manager will hope that a more ambitious Plymouth side on home soil will afford his players space to work their magic and negotiate a safe passage into the next round.

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