Fabinho’s West Ham availability unknown and Liverpool face centre-back shortage

10 August 2018

Jurgen Klopp admits he still doesn’t know whether Fabinho will be able to face West Ham this weekend, while his centre-back options are very limited.


EDIT: Fabinho, Matip and Gomez were all pictured in training on Friday afternoon.

Liverpool’s Premier League campaign gets underway against the Hammers on Sunday afternoon, as the Reds begin their quest for the title.

Klopp’s plans were seemingly dealt a blow when Fabinho was pictured leaving Melwood with doctor Andy Massey on Thursday.

It was immediately rumoured that the Brazilian would miss out on Sunday with an injury, but Klopp says it is illness that could prevent him from featuring.

“The scan was clear. It was only a checkup, but he felt ill when he came back so we sent him home again,” he told reporters on Friday.

“He was not feeling really well, I’ve not seen him so far [today]. We will see.”

Klopp confirmed that Dejan Lovren will definitely play no part after his late return from the World Cup, but provided a more optimistic update on the availability of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 7, 2018: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the pre-match warm-up before the preseason friendly match between Liverpool FC and Torino FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“We will see [with the World Cup players], they’re all in a different shape,” he explained.

“Trent [has been back] a bit longer in which is good; Hendo in and full of power, but not too long in. It’s Hendo, so you always think about him.

“Dejan will not be available for the weekend, that’s how it is.

“We will see, we don’t have big issues but these little things to think about—if it’s a risk or not, and if it’s a risk, whether we take it or not.

“We’ll have a fantastic football team on the pitch and hopefully I’ll have to make a few decisions.”

And the manager cast doubt over the involvement of centre-backs Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan, with the latter highly unlikely to feature.

“Ragnar [has] no real chance, Joel did parts of training yesterday, like Joe did. We will see how they are today,” he added.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 7, 2018: Liverpool's Nathaniel Phillips during the preseason friendly match between Liverpool FC and Torino FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Henderson is available, he could be an option to replace Fabinho were the Brazilian to be deemed unfit, while Georginio Wijnaldum is another candidate for the No. 6 role.

James Milner should be available despite requiring 15 stitches in his head after the 5-0 win over Napoli in Dublin, having trained this week in a protective headband.

Alexander-Arnold is likely to start at right-back having featured in the Reds’ final two pre-season friendlies, but Klopp’s issues at centre-back are more concerning.

With Lovren out and Klavan, Matip and Gomez doubtful, Nathaniel Phillips could be drafted in to partner Virgil van Dijk for his senior competitive debut.

This would mark a big milestone for the 21-year-old, who spent much of last season sidelined with a back injury before being called up to first-team training in February.

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