LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2020: Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara (L) and manager Jürgen Klopp walk back to the dressing room at full time after an injury time winning goal was disallowed following a VAR review during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 237th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thiago out of Man City clash, withdrawn from Spain squad

UPDATE: Thiago has been removed from Spain’s squad for international duty next week. We can therefore assume he has had a setback in his recovery and will not be available on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp will hold his pre-Man City press conference at 12.30pm on Friday when we should get a full update from the boss.

Thiago has been sidelined since Richarlison’s red-card challenge in the Merseyside derby on October 17, missing the last five games with a knee injury.

It has been a tough start to life at Liverpool for the 29-year-old, with a positive test for COVID-19 also seeing him sit out three games earlier in the campaign, meaning he has only played 135 minutes so far across two appearances.

While it had been hoped that Thiago would be fit to return for the visit of West Ham on October 31, and the summer signing has been working individually at Melwood as he steps up his recovery, he is yet to report back for selection.

Thursday evening brought the Reds’ latest training session in front of the cameras, and Thiago was again missing as Jurgen Klopp and his staff prepared the squad for one of the biggest games of the season.

Liverpool head to Man City on Sunday, and while there remains a chance their No. 6 could still be available – with two more days to prove his fitness before the journey to Manchester – his absence suggests he will miss out.

Spain manager Luis Enrique has left Thiago out of his squad for the November international break, which may even hint at a setback for the midfielder.

This could, therefore, see Naby Keita start at the Etihad, with the Guinean an option again after recovering from a minor injury.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Naby Keita during the pre-match warm-up before the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 4-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum are shoo-ins, but it had been hoped that Thiago could be fit to take on a side led by his former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager, Pep Guardiola – now, his only hope seems to be a place on the bench.

Beyond Keita, the likes of Curtis Jones and James Milner are also candidates, while Klopp could switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation to include all four of Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

There appear to be no new injury problems for the Reds, with Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the only long-term absentees.

Fabinho is believed to have returned to light training with the fitness coaches at Melwood, but will not be considered until after the international break, and hopefully the meeting with Leicester at Anfield.

Kostas Tsimikas was again part of the session, having returned to the squad for the Champions League clash with Atalanta in midweek, while Joel Matip was also involved and could start alongside Joe Gomez at centre-back.

Youngsters Rhys Williams, Jake Cain, Billy Koumetio and Vitezslav Jaros continued their stints with the first team, as they look to settle as long-term options for Klopp.

The manager now has a call to make as Gomez’s partner at the back on Sunday, with both Williams and Nat Phillips impressing when given the chance, but Matip by far the most experienced.