LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, September 16, 2016: Liverpool's Joel Matip in action against Chelsea during the FA Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joel Matip returns to Liverpool training, expected to be fit for West Ham clash

Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip has returned to training after a minor ankle injury, and should be available on Sunday against West Ham United.

Matip was sidelined for the Reds’ trip to take on Bournemouth on December 4, with his side eventually losing 4-3 despite leading 3-1 with less than 30 minutes to play.

The Cameroonian was clearly missed within Jurgen Klopp‘s defence, with Liverpool’s capitulation proof of his importance.

Klopp will be buoyed, therefore, by Matip’s return to full training, with the summer signing joining his team-mates on the field during their mid-season trip to Barcelona.

The Reds flew to Catalonia shortly after their defeat at Dean Court, though their time away from Merseyside was planned in advance.

Matip is now likely to start at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, as Klopp’s side look to rewrite their form with victory over Slavan Bilic’s struggling Hammers.

He should join Dejan Lovren at the heart of defence, with Lucas Leiva dropping out of the starting lineup.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 19, 2016: Liverpool's Joel Matip in action against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool are yet to suffer defeat when Matip has played this season, with the No. 32’s strength and defensive nous proving crucial to their efforts at the back.

He has slotted in seamlessly alongside Lovren, providing a composed presence at the heart of defence, and a progressive option as they look to push forward as a cohesive unit.

Tellingly, without Matip in the Premier League this season, Klopp’s side have conceded nine goals in three games, while they have also conceded just nine goals in the 11 games he has played.

He has also contributed heavily to three of Liverpool’s four clean sheets in all competitions this season.

Klopp will still be without both Philippe Coutinho (ankle) and Danny Ings (knee) against West Ham, while it remains unclear whether Daniel Sturridge (calf) will be passed fit to feature.

Both Joe Gomez and Sheyi Ojo are continuing their recovery from injury by spending time with the Liverpool Under-23s, with Klopp’s squad options increasing during a busy December schedule.

Liverpool will return to Merseyside on Wednesday, with preparations then continuing at Melwood.

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