Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is facing the worst injury crisis of his reign ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash against leaders Leicester City. Express Sport looks at how the Reds could line up with up to nine first-team stars missing.
It’s in defence where Klopp is feeling the worst impact of his side’s growing injury list.
With Virgil van Dijk already sidelined for much of the season, Joe Gomez last week suffered a knee injury in training with the England team, leaving Joel Matip as the Reds’ only fit senior centre-back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold had already been ruled out of Sunday’s Anfield clash against Brendan Rodgers’ side with a calf injury sustained against Manchester City before the international break.
There was more misery to come for Liverpool as it emerged Andy Robertson had suffered a hamstring injury while on Scotland duty, and he is now a doubt for the Foxes game – potentially leaving Liverpool without their first-choice back four.
And there are problems elsewhere on the pitch, with forward Mohamed Salah self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus, while midfielder Thiago Alcantara is still recovering from a knee injury and Jordan Henderson is potentially out.
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Expected Liverpool XI vs Leicester
Goalkeeper/defence: Alisson; Neco Williams, Fabinho, Joel Matip, James Milner
Alisson will of course start in goal, while midfielder Fabinho has given Liverpool a boost by returning to training, and s likely to continue his stand-in centre-back duties alongside Matip.
Neco Williams has previously proven himself an able deputy for Alexander-Arnold and is likely to get the nod at right-back.
Kostas Tsimikas is recovering from a knock, so if Robertson is ruled out of the Foxes clash, Klopp will turn to the tried and trusted option of James Milner, who was the manager’s Plan B at left-back last season.
Also waiting in the wings to fill in at the back are centre-backs Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams – but Klopp will not want any further injury setbacks in defence.
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Midfield: Gini Wijnaldum, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones
With Fabinho and Milner filling in at the back, Klopp is also running short of options in midfield.
Henderson was replaced at half-time during England’s defeat to Belgium on Sunday, with the Reds skipper feeling “muscle tightness”.
And Thiago has still only played 135 minutes since joining Liverpool as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.
If the pair don’t win their fitness battles then Gini Wijnaldum could be joined by Naby Keita – who scored a sensational goal for Guinea during the international break – with Curtis Jones also given the chance to gain more Premier League experience.
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Forwards: Jota, Firmino, Mane
With Salah self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus while on international duty with Egypt, it’s lucky for Klopp that Diogo Jota is in such fine form.
Jota has scored seven goals in his 11 appearances so far for Liverpool, and should slot seamlessly in alongside regular starters Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Klopp should also be able to call on Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino if he needs to freshen up his attack against Leicester.
Predicted Liverpool XI vs Leicester: Alisson; Williams, Fabinho, Matip, Milner; Wijnaldum, Keita, Jones; Jota, Firmino, Mane.
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