LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 5, 2020: Liverpool's new signing Japan international Takumi Minamino during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 235th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Minamino’s big chance if Salah misses out – Predicting the Liverpool lineup vs. Everton

Jurgen Klopp could opt for the usual formidable side or spring a few surprises as he names his first Liverpool lineup in over three months on the trip to Everton.

It is an aspect of his job that he will have missed, writing those 11 names down on the teamsheet, accompanied by a solid bank of substitutes in reserve.

Klopp is back on relatively normal duty this weekend as the Reds return to action for the first time in 103 days, with a Merseyside derby behind closed doors at Goodison providing an opportunity to move closer to the title.

With six more points needed, Liverpool are hoping to start quickly and seal the trophy early into their final nine-game burst, after back-to-back 0-0 away draws in the Merseyside derby.

Against an Everton side hampered by injuries, this is an opportunity to lay down a marker for the rest of the campaign, and Klopp should go all-out.

So how could Liverpool line up for the derby? We’ve taken a look at the options.


“Nobody is ruled out”

On Thursday, Klopp claimed that “nobody really is ruled out for Sunday,” but adding that “we have to see” indicated that there could be a few doubts over his selection.

The marquee concern comes with Mohamed Salah, who has been absent from training in recent days and missed the 6-0 friendly win over Blackburn, while there are also question marks over Andy Robertson and Curtis Jones.

Speaking at his press conference on Friday afternoon, Klopp maintained the line that no player is out of contention at this stage.

But Salah can still be considered a doubt, while there will be plans in place if Robertson is not fully fit.

The three-month break has allowed Alisson to return to fitness, however, after a hip injury ruled him out of the last three games, with the Brazilian set to take over from Adrian.

Xherdan Shaqiri should miss out, with the winger still not fit, but youngsters Ki-Jana Hoever, Yasser Larouci, Sepp van den Berg, Neco Williams, Jake Cain, Leighton Clarkson, Harvey Elliott and Paul Glatzel are all in the frame.


Liverpool’s Starting XI vs. Everton

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 5, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Klopp’s comments can be taken at face value, Liverpool will be able to field their established, full-strength side for the derby.

Alisson‘s return to fitness is a big boost, allowing the Brazilian to resume duties as No. 1, behind a back four of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Robertson.

In midfield, the manager could stick with the trusted trio of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum, as Liverpool aim to get over the line early.

And if Salah is fit, he can join Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in attack to see the Reds line up like this:

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

A measure of scepticism is required when it comes to the manager’s claims on the fitness of his squad, however, and as such an alternative XI can be drafted.

With Alisson retained in goal, the Brazilian could instead marshal a defensive quartet of Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk and James Milner, who is available to fill in for Robertson.

In midfield, the impressive form of Naby Keita in training—which Klopp’s staff are said to have “raved about” in recent weeks—could see the Guinean preferred to Gini Wijnaldum, who has suffered fitness issues of his own lately.

And if Salah is reduced to a substitutes’ role, or ruled out of the squad entirely, the responsibility could fall on Takumi Minamino alongside Mane and Firmino:

Alisson; Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk, Milner; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Minamino, Mane, Firmino

“It helped Taki, 100 percent,” Klopp said of the ‘pre-season’ Liverpool have been afforded.

“He looks really different in the moment, to the first three weeks when he tried to please everybody and do everything that we say, and that’s in a language he’s not 100 percent comfortable in and all these things.

“Now we have much more time, he has much more time to settle, and he’s settled. So that’s good.”

It certainly sounds as though Klopp is prepared to throw Minamino in if he is required, and if Salah does miss out, an altered side can be relied upon to get the job done at Goodison.