Darwin Nunez was only named on the bench as Liverpool face Arsenal at Anfield this afternoon, with five changes to Jurgen Klopp‘s starting lineup.
Nunez was expected to start alongside Cody Gakpo and Mohamed Salah as the Reds take on the Premier League leaders, but instead he takes a place on the bench.
The release of Liverpool’s teamsheet came hours after the Uruguayan was absent from the squad’s pre-match walk at the Stanley Dock, leading to concerns from supporters.
According to the Liverpool Echo, the call to omit Nunez from the starting lineup comes due to illness.
Instead, Diogo Jota takes a place as part of the attacking line, with Klopp making five changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Chelsea on Tuesday night.
Nunez had already suffered four different injury problems this season, along with the three-match ban that came from his headbutt against Crystal Palace in August, so it is at least encouraging that he is not sidelined.
However, this comes amid scrutiny from some fans over how Klopp utilises his No. 27, with only Harvey Elliott (18) substituted off more times than Nunez this season.
He was withdrawn with 79 minutes on the clock at Stamford Bridge while the misfiring Jota played the full 90, leading to criticism of the manager.
But it is clear that Nunez is a player whose fitness will need to be managed – at least this season – with the adjustment to life in a high-intensity Liverpool attack a tough one to make.