Liverpool will be without half of their first-choice defence for the midweek trip to Genk and Jurgen Klopp has elaborated on the duo’s unavailability.
A settled back four has been the backbone of the Reds’ impressive form in 2019, with Joel Matip forging a rock-solid partnership with Virgil van Dijk in the middle of the defence and the two full-backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, key in both halves of the pitch.
Matip and Alexander-Arnold, though, will be missing in Belgium, forcing Klopp into a Champions League reshuffle at the back.
The boss has explained the case with each, neither of which sound particularly long-lasting—but fans have been assured of quick returns for players before, which hasn’t ultimately proved to be the case.
An ongoing complaint is the case for Matip, who appears to be the greater concern after also missing games before the international break.
“Trent is ill and Joel is not ready,” Klopp told LiverpoolFC.com.
“It is just a little thing which usually settles in the two weeks [Matip] had; it did, but then it came up after the United game and so now we just have to make sure this time it settles finally, that’s all.
“It is not a massive injury, it’s just a bit annoying for him and he cannot do it [on Wednesday].
“Trent got ill overnight; hopefully he can recover quickly, but for tomorrow there was no chance.”
As such, it seems certain that Joe Gomez will return to the lineup—though whether in the centre or at full-back is the big question.
James Milner could replace Trent, leaving Gomez to reprise his partnership with Van Dijk as he did against Salzburg in the last European fixture.
Alternatively, Dejan Lovren could come back into the side.
The Croatian played against Leicester before the recent two-week break, while also playing twice for his country, so should be match-fit and ready to contribute—which in turn should mean Gomez plays right-back.
Klopp has further decisions to make over who to play in midfield, after three positive sub appearances at the weekend, as well as the likely reincorporation of Mo Salah into the starting lineup.
Regardless of who starts in defence and midfield, the hope will be for a much more proactive approach from the entire side than was visible at the weekend, as Liverpool look to record a second group-stage win in Europe.