Liverpool are finally back in action, albeit in the friendly Dubai Super Cup, with Jurgen Klopp already tasked with plugging gaps in his lineup.
The Reds’ World Cup break has been largely productive, but the buildup to their meeting with Lyon in Dubai has taken a familiar turn.
A high-profile injury on the eve of Sunday’s clash, along with concerns emerging from training footage, make it more difficult to predict how Liverpool could line up.
Here are the options facing Klopp as he prepares for Lyon.
Liverpool squad and absentees
Though a 33-man squad flew out to Dubai for the mid-season training camp, they won’t all be available on Sunday:
- Luis Diaz absent having suffered knee injury setback
- Curtis Jones unlikely after training individually
- Marcelo Pitaluga, Arthur, Kaide Gordon and Diogo Jota all out
- Thiago and Joel Matip both doubts with workload managed
Liverpool likely squad to take on Lyon will be comprised of 27 players:
Goalkeepers: Kelleher, Adrian, Davies, Mrozek
Defenders: Gomez, Matip, Phillips, Quansah, Robertson, Tsimikas, Ramsay, Chambers
Midfielders: Thiago, Elliott, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita, Bajcetic, Cain, Corness
Forwards: Salah, Firmino, Carvalho, Clark, Doak, Frauendorf, Stewart
Liverpool’s XI vs. Lyon
Though the trip to Dubai is being treated as another pre-season, there is little need to ease players back in as would be the case during a summer warmup.
As such, it is likely that Klopp names his strongest possible lineup from the start:
- Caoimhin Kelleher the No. 1 goalkeeper in Alisson‘s absence
- Joel Matip to partner Joe Gomez in return from injury
- Calvin Ramsay and Andy Robertson full-backs
- Thiago as No. 6, flanked by James Milner and Harvey Elliott
- Fabio Carvalho to stand in alongside Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino
That would see Liverpool take to the field like this:
Kelleher; Ramsay, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Thiago, Elliott, Milner; Salah, Carvalho, Firmino
However, there are no guarantees when it comes to fitness after a three-and-a-half-week break, with the absence of Matip and Thiago from training particular concerns.
If neither are fit to start, Klopp could turn to youngsters and fringe figures to fill the gaps:
- Nat Phillips an option if Matip is unable to start
- Opportunity for Stefan Bajcetic as deepest midfielder
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain available for midfield berth
- Elliott could switch to left flank
Those tweaks would bring this Liverpool XI:
Kelleher; Ramsay, Phillips, Gomez, Robertson; Bajcetic, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner; Salah, Elliott, Firmino
As the first friendly back following a long break, it would be wrong to read too much into Liverpool’s return clash, but it serves as an opportunity to get back up to speed.