Jurgen Klopp Says Joel Matip Could Face Brighton, Talks Dejan Lovren Recovery

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2019

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07:  Jurgen Klopp manager / head coach of Liverpool during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux on January 7, 2019 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Molly Darlington - AMA/Getty Images)
Molly Darlington - AMA/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp said Joel Matip will face a late fitness test ahead of Liverpool's trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, but Dejan Lovren won't be available after he picked up a hamstring injury against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Lovren's exit after six minutes left the Reds with Virgil van Dijk as their only fit senior centre-back ahead of upcoming fixtures, but Matip is back in training after breaking his collarbone a month ago.

Per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, Klopp said: "Matip trained yesterday for the first time with the team, but we will have to see. [Jordan Henderson] will train today."

The German added that Lovren, Adam Lallana and Joe Gomez remain sidelined. According to the Echo's Sam Carroll, Klopp said Lovren should be fit again after the Reds' match with Crystal Palace on January 19, meaning he could feature against Leicester City on January 30.

In the meantime, should Matip not be ready to take on the Seagulls, Fabinho may have to deputise at centre-back as he did against Wolves in Liverpool's 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup third round.

On the possibility of the Brazilian filling in there, Klopp said: "If Fabinho has to play as a centre-half, what we want is the natural understanding of the game. If you are a holding six or a centre-half with the ball, it is easier."

The manager added:

In light of the Reds' injury worries, Klopp is perhaps feeling a little envious of his rivals: "I [saw] Chelsea-Tottenham in the [Carabao Cup] semi-final and both benches were full of players I know. That means no kids around."

Unlike those around Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, however, the Reds are no longer in the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup.

Despite making nine changes for the defeat to Wolves, Klopp said he had still hoped to progress:

The German defended his selection, adding: "The players who didn't play in that game either played all nine games in December or were a little bit injured."

Rafael Camacho was one of three teenagers to make their debuts in the game, starting the match at right-back. Perhaps in part due to the Reds' injury worries, Klopp confirmed he will not be leaving the club in January amid rumours linking him with Sporting CP, per Sky Sports.

While Liverpool's exit from the domestic cup competitions will give them fewer fixtures to deal with in the run-in, they've already let Dominic Solanke and Nathaniel Clyne leave this month.

Having more time to recover between games should help Klopp keep his best players on the pitch as much as possible, but it's clear he does not want to leave himself short of options should they suffer more injuries.

They may have to cope with a makeshift option against Brighton, but it's important they capitalise on their scheduling advantage in relation to their rivals by keeping the pressure on with another three points.  

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