Details of the injury that forced Takumi Minamino to withdraw from the Japan squad are scarce, but though it is seen as “not serious” he could miss games for Liverpool.
Minamino was confirmed as having left Japan early on Saturday, having sat out of their 1-0 defeat to Oman last week.
The 26-year-old has been credited with a thigh injury, though the severity of the issue remains to be seen as he returns to Merseyside for further assessment.
With Harvey Elliott joining the likes of Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Neco Williams on the injury list, concerns have already been raised over the Reds’ options ahead of this weekend’s trip to Leeds.
The Athletic‘s James Pearce has provided good news on Elliott, reporting that his withdrawal from the England under-21s squad is a “precautionary measure” and that “the hope is that he will recover in time to feature.”
However, Pearce cast doubt over Minamino’s involvement, writing that he is “more of a concern ahead of the weekend.”
The injury is simply described as a “muscle problem,” but Pearce stressed on Twitter that the issue is “not serious,” allaying fears of a long-term layoff.
It seems that Minamino will almost certainly miss the Leeds game, and there is a likelihood he will also be ruled out of the Champions League opener at home to AC Milan given it is only three days later.
In Firmino’s absence – with the striker also expected to miss the clashes with Leeds, Milan and possibly Crystal Palace – Minamino would have been considered the fourth-choice forward.
But the depth of Liverpool’s attack will be tested as Divock Origi steps up along with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kaide Gordon and, if fit, Elliott.
Despite Minamino’s perceived rise in status, though, it is worth noting that he was unused in each of the opening three games of the campaign, failing to come off the bench against Norwich, Burnley and Chelsea.
He made five appearances throughout pre-season, scoring three goals and setting up another.