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Klopp not ruling Joel Matip out vs. Spurs, hopeful back injury not serious

Jurgen Klopp remains hopeful that the back problem that saw Joel Matip withdrawn during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Fulham will not keep him out against Tottenham.

Matip was forced off at half-time at Fulham, with the centre-back replaced by Takumi Minamino as Jordan Henderson partnered Fabinho.

It was later confirmed that the No. 32 was suffering with back pain, which serves as the latest in a long run of injuries over the past season-and-a-half, and adds to a list of problems for Klopp.

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez both sidelined for the long term, the manager has turned to Fabinho as a full-time centre-back, along with academy duo Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams on hand to fill in.

Liverpool could be forced to push on without their only remaining, natural senior centre-back at least for Wednesday night’s title clash with Tottenham, though the manager stressed “there is a chance” Matip is fit.

Joel Matip has a spasm in his back. We will see. In the moment, nothing else,” the manager told reporters after the draw in west London.

“He already got treatment, will get treatment and we will see. I think there is a chance for Wednesday.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Liverpool's Joel Matip during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Given Matip’s fitness issues and Klopp’s record of playing down injuries, however, there remains a possibility that the Cameroonian misses the visit of the league leaders.

That could hand Phillips a big opportunity as partner to Fabinho at the back, though Williams and Billy Koumetio would also be hopeful of involvement.

However, Henderson’s performance in the second half at Craven Cottage was encouraging with regards a new stand-in at the back – though he may be best reserved for games in which Liverpool are expected to dominate.

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