Klopp claims “it’s not decided yet” whether Joel Matip can start vs. Man United

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Jurgen Klopp has described Joel Matip as “close” to a return, and despite it seeming highly unlikely, he insists “it’s not decided yet” if he will start against Man United.

Matip has missed the last three games with an adductor injury suffered during the 1-1 draw with West Brom, with Klopp forced into another change to his back line.

Patience with the No. 32’s fitness record is running increasingly thin, but Matip’s importance to Liverpool cannot be understated in the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

The Cameroonian was not present in training in the buildup to Sunday’s clash with Man United, but there is still time to report back to preparations and prove his fitness for a starting place.

Given how reluctant Klopp has been to rush his players – and Matip in particular – back so far this season, it seems unlikely he will start against the Premier League leaders, but speaking in his pre-match press conference, the manager said “it’s not decided yet.”

“Joel is close,” he told reporters.

“Does it make sense now to throw him into a game with one or two sessions – which he didn’t do yet, but today and tomorrow he might be involved – and bring him in?

“I don’t know, we have to see. We have to decide it then. We have to look at him, how he trains and how he looks in training, these kinds of things.”

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 30, 2020: Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Matip is unavailable, Klopp faces a decision over whether Jordan Henderson, Nat Phillips or Rhys Williams partners Fabinho at the back, as he stressed that Liverpool have “different solutions.”

However, in his explanation, he suggested Henderson would return to midfield if possible, which would be the case if Matip was fit.

Klopp concluded: “We still have different solutions, and Hendo is for us very important in midfield as well, so we just have to see. But it’s not decided yet, why should I?”

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