LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 14, 2019: Liverpool's Joel Matip during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joel Matip hands Liverpool latest fitness boost ahead of Merseyside derby

Joel Matip was pictured back in training at Melwood on Tuesday in a boost to Jurgen Klopp after missing Liverpool’s last five games in all competitions.

Matip has featured for only a handful of minutes in 2020/21 to date as a late substitute in the opening day win over Leeds, before his latest injury setback.

The 29-year-old has been plagued by injury for much of his Anfield career, but was hit hard last year having made just 13 appearances in all competitions.

His absence this season has required Fabinho to drop into the heart of defence at times, while Virgil van Dijk has featured in all six fixtures – which saw him make his debut in the League Cup for the club at Lincoln.

The specifics of Matip’s injury had been kept under wraps but Klopp had signposted a return “after the international break” in mid-September.

And ahead of Saturday’s Merseyside derby, Matip was pictured taking part in a training session at Melwood with those who did not depart for international duty this month.

While still likely to need time to find match fitness and a groove, Matip’s return comes at the ideal moment with seven games to come in the space of 21 days across two different competitions.

When fit and firing, Matip is one of the leading centre-backs in the Premier League but now needs to build a fitness level which can help boost his availability to Klopp throughout the remainder of the season.

Fellow centre-back in Nat Phillips was also present after a minor injury setback of his own, where a move before deadline day on Friday is expected with a host of Championship clubs expressing interest, including Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough.

Liverpool's Alcantara Thiago during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. (Michael Regan/PA Wire/PA Images)

Both Thiago and Sadio Mane continued their comeback trails after respective isolation periods following a positive COVID-19 test, with the former expected to earn his first start at Everton.

Mohamed Salah, James Milner, Harvey Elliott and Adrian were also present as the Reds continue their preparations without the majority of the first-team, who are expected back over the coming days with Wednesday the final day of international fixtures.