Joel Matip and Thiago Alcantara will MISS Liverpool’s trip to Ajax with Jurgen Klopp taking no risks over fitness after brutal Merseyside derby… with Fabinho set to start as a centre-back alongside Joe Gomez
- Joel Matip and Thiago Alcantara will be left out of Liverpool’s clash with Ajax
- Jurgen Klopp is unwilling to gamble on their fitness after losing Virgil van Dijk
- Midfielder Fabinho is set to start as a makeshift centre-half with Joe Gomez
Liverpool have left Joel Matip and Thiago Alcantara at home ahead of their Champions League clash with Ajax on Wednesday, with manager Jurgen Klopp taking no chance on their fitness.
The Premier League champions have a gruelling fixture schedule coming up with six matches in the pace of 18 days, and the German boss is keen to manage his stars after losing Virgil van Dijk for the rest of the season.
Matip’s absence is set to give an opportunity to midfielder Fabinho to impress as a makeshift centre-back alongside Joe Gomez in Amsterdam, with Klopp looking to experiment with his options.
Liverpool are set to leave Thiago Alcantara (left) and Joel Matip (right) at home for Ajax clash
Jurgen Klopp is looking to manage his stars’ fitness after losing Virgil van Dijk for the season
The Dutchman ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments against Everton and is a long-term lay off
Thiago, meanwhile, has only completed a full 90 minutes once for the Reds since his £20million move from Bayern Munich this summer, coming in the 2-2 draw in the Merseyside derby against Everton on Saturday.
The Spaniard only recently recovered from coronavirus and suffered a knock in the closing stages of the game at Goodison Park. Klopp said the player would be ‘assessed’ ahead of the European game, but has decided not to risk him.
Matip also played every minute of the derby and is being primed for Saturday’s home game against Sheffield United, when he’ll be looking to start a successful partnership with Gomez.
Midfielder Fabinho (left) is set to start with Joe Gomez (right) at the back in Amsterdam
Klopp has been left reeling by the loss of Dutchman van Dijk, who was taken out by a horror challenge from Everton keeper Jordan Pickford in the first half of the game.
The star centre-back is expected to miss the rest of the campaign after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligaments after a scan confirmed he required surgery.
Meanwhile, the Reds boss said midfielder Naby Keita is in contention to play against Ajax having returned to training and also reported that goalkeeper Alisson was making good progress to boost his fitness woes, but said it was important not to rush the Brazilian shot stopper.
Naby Keita (centre) is in contention to feature against the Dutch side on Wednesday night
‘Ali looks very good,’ he told the club’s website. ‘We have to see; catching balls and stuff like this is all possible. But we cannot rush it and will not rush it.
‘Actually, it’s a common thing every day when I see Ali, I say: ‘How was it today?’ He always with a big smile tells me of the slight improvements. Today I didn’t see him [yet], so I can’t wait to ask for his progress!’
Liverpool’s game against Ajax will be their Champions League opener in Group D. The 2018-19 winners will also be up against last season’s suprise package Atalanta and Danish side FC Midtjylland.