Alisson Becker and Fabinho are set to miss out but Roberto Firmino will return when Liverpool take on Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Liverpool will resume their 2021/22 campaign and hope to get back to winning ways when they lock horns with Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon. And Jurgen Klopp has been handed a major blow on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
The scheduling of the South American leg of the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers has forced the Liverpool boss to exclude two players from the travelling group to take on Watford. Alisson Becker and Fabinho have not returned from Brazil in duty in time to complete their recovery and make themselves available.
In addition, the international break has claimed another scalp in the form of Curtis Jones, who has picked up a knock while representing England under-21. Apart from Jones, Thiago Alcantara and Harvey Elliott are also on the sidelines with their respective injuries.
Klopp provided a team news update during his pre-match press conference, starting with the topic of Alisson and Fabinho’s late return, saying, “We’ve known it for a while, we made our decision a while ago.”
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“We had to sort quarantine issues and all these kind of things, so the decision we made is the boys will not be here – they will go directly to Madrid, wait there for us and then hopefully be able to play against Atletico. They will come back slightly later than us, 10 days [is] over then and then they can come back and are in our normal procedure again and that’s it.”
“Yes, Trent and Diogo are available, at least they were yesterday. Thiago, I don’t know [when he will be available]. It still takes a little bit of time. That’s a bit disappointing but we know that as well for a few days now that it will not go that quick. We have to wait.”
As revealed by Klopp, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota are available after overcoming their respective fitness issues. Alexander-Arnold ought to return to the starting lineup as the right-back, with Andrew Robertson a certainty on the left flank.
At the heart of the Liverpool defence, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk should pair up again, with Caoimhin Kelleher coming in for the unavailable Alisson. Up ahead in midfield, Klopp’s options are reduced to just three recognised players, meaning Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita pretty much pick themselves.
Finally, in attack, the key decision will centre around whether Klopp chooses to hand Diogo Jota a start against Watford. However, Roberto Firmino ought to return to the starting lineup, reprising his usual false nine role, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane being the two wide men.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
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