The Reds have been afforded the luxury – or perhaps, as their previous record would suggest, the challenge – of seven days between their last outing and the visit of United.
Eight days after the 4-1 win at Aston Villa in the FA Cup, and with a full week to prepare, Jurgen Klopp‘s side face one of their biggest games of the season so far, at home to the Premier League leaders.
United leapfrogged Liverpool to top spot and finally drew level in terms of games played with a 1-0 win over Burnley on Tuesday night, which sets up Sunday’s clash as a must-win for either side.
That appears unlikely to be eased in time for the weekend, with Matip not part of the squad pictured in training at Kirkby on Wednesday.
Neither was Keita, who has missed the last four games, as the Guinean’s niggling injuries continue this season – having also missed a period due to COVID-19 earlier in the campaign.
The involvement of Matip or Keita against United would be contingent on the pair returning for at least two of the next three sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but they should be considered major doubts at this stage.
There has been no repercussion of the back problem Sadio Mane looked to have suffered early into last Friday’s victory at Villa, while all four of the manager’s emergency centre-backs were all in training.
His selection is eased by the continued fitness of Thiago, who is likely to join Gini Wijnaldum in the middle of the park alongside one of Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri or James Milner.
With speculation over the continuation of the academy campaign amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, Leighton Clarkson and Jake Cain remain part of the first-team squad at Kirkby.
So, too, were goalkeepers Marcelo Pitaluga and Jakub Ojrzynski on Wednesday, with Adrian missing as the young stoppers joined Alisson and Caoimhin Kelleher for a series of drills overseen by John Achterberg and Jack Robinson.
Adrian‘s absence is yet to be explained, though with six months left on his contract and now having lost his place to Kelleher, a January exit cannot be ruled out.