NAPLES, ITALY - Tuesday, September 17, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah before the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Studio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Salah to return, changes in defence – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Genk

Jurgen Klopp should make at least three changes to his starting lineup as Liverpool take on Genk in Group E of the Champions League on Wednesday.

The return of Alisson for Sunday’s trip to Man United was offset by the absence of Mohamed Salah, with Klopp unable to name his strongest possible side once this season.

This trend is set to continue as, despite Salah’s return from injury, further withdrawals will restrict the manager’s selection in Belgium.

It comes in a relatively low-key but crucial European clash for Liverpool, who after two games sit third in their group with three points, level with Salzburg and one below Napoli.

Victory would present a strong case for progress to the last 16 at the midway point, and this will be the goal after a difficult afternoon in Manchester.

Here’s how Liverpool could line up at the Luminus Arena.


Team News

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 22, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between KRC Genk and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

The sight of Salah back in training on Tuesday afternoon was a welcome one, particularly given Divock Origi‘s struggle in his stead at Old Trafford.

But neither Joel Matip or Trent Alexander-Arnold were present at Melwood, and the pair were left out of the travelling squad with a knee injury and virus respectively.

They join Xherdan Shaqiri on the treatment table, with the winger heading back to Switzerland for treatment on a calf problem.

Nathaniel Clyne and Paul Glatzel are long-term absentees, while Harvey Elliott was left out of Klopp’s 19-man group despite training with the first team.

Liverpool Squad in Genk

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Adrian, Kelleher

Defenders: Van Dijk, Gomez, Lovren, Robertson

Midfielders: Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana

Forwards: Salah, Mane, Firmino, Origi, Brewster


Liverpool’s Starting XI vs. Genk

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 22, 2019: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between KRC Genk and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Without both Matip and Alexander-Arnold, Klopp will be forced into a defensive shakeup, with his right-hand side in need of reinforcement.

Both Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren trained as normal on Tuesday and travelled with the squad, and are the most likely candidates to replace the injured duo.

Lovren defied pre-match expectations with a strong performance in only his second start of the season so far against Leicester, and could be trusted to partner Virgil van Dijk, with Gomez at right-back.

After influential cameos from Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana on Sunday, there have been calls to bring at least one into the starting lineup at Genk.

However, Klopp has typically kept faith with the three-man unit of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum in Europe, and this may not change this time around.

Furthermore, with Salah’s return allowing him to rejoin Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in attack, Liverpool could line up like this in Belgium:

Alisson; Gomez, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Firmino

James Milner is another option to come in at right-back, however, and if Klopp prefers the experience and attacking output of the 33-year-old this could see Gomez start at centre-back instead.

Meanwhile, with Keita receiving praise for “not always doing the obvious things” in his 10-minute showing at United, the manager could be tempted to start the Guinean.

If so, the most attractive prospect would be a trio of Fabinho, Wijnaldum and Keita, which should provide a balance of defence and attack away from home.

And with Salah having been a doubt for Genk as recent as Sunday, Klopp could also opt to name the Egyptian on the substitutes’ bench.

Given Origi’s abject display on the wing against United, Oxlade-Chamberlain would serve as a more progressive option in the front three, and allow Mane to return to the left:

Alisson; Milner, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Firmino

Changes are guaranteed in Belgium, it is just a case of how many, and there are a number of interesting possibilities for Liverpool on Wednesday night.

The introduction of Gomez and Lovren in defence, and the return of Salah, seems the most likely, but with Tottenham to come on Sunday at Anfield, a rejig would ensure fresh legs in both games.