Fit-again Joel Matip “not afraid” of Liverpool’s centre-back competition

Joel Matip is heading into the new season off the back of a long-term injury and with renewed competition at centre-back, but he is “not afraid” of the battle for a defensive position.

A player with obvious skill and talent but robbed by one injury after another, its been a painful cycle for the 29-year-old since his arrival at Anfield in 2016.

It’s meant that he has played just 46 percent of Liverpool’s matches, with injury leading to frustration for both the player and fans.

But now, after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in January, Matip is back in the mix and has shown promise both on the training track and the pitch.

The task now is to remain fit and ensure he is at the heart of the discussion for a spot at centre-back spot with Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez all to vie for a position this season.

But Matip is “not afraid” of the competition that awaits when all are fit and firing.

“I’m feeling good. It’s nice to be back in training with the lads and to just be playing, playing [with] the ball and being active,” Matip told LFCTV.

GRÖDIG, AUSTRIA - Friday, July 23, 2021: Liverpool players line-up before a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and FSV Mainz 05 at the Greisbergers Betten-Arena. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Harvey Elliott, Ibrahima Konaté, Joel Matip. (Pic by Jürgen Faichter/Propaganda)

“At the moment, I feel fine so I hope it stays like this.

“At a big club like Liverpool, normally if everything goes right there’s a lot of competitors, so I am not afraid of the competition.”

There is undisputed quality when it comes to Matip and his injury record has made him an underrated figure for Jurgen Klopp, but the task now will be to ensure he is more available than he is not.

It’s clear that he is prepared to fight for his spot and that he has had a head start on his teammates on return from injury puts him in good stead to be named in the XI at Norwich on August 14.

From there, only time will tell but in the moment Matip is looking the part and his work on the training track and throughout pre-season will be key to how his campaign unfolds.