Liverpool are sweating on the fitness of key midfielder Thiago Alcantara ahead of Sunday’s heavyweight Premier League clash with Manchester City.
Thiago hasn’t played for Liverpool since being on the receiving end of a reckless challenge from Richarlison in the Merseyside derby on 17 October, which saw the Everton forward sent off. Thiago has been nursing a knee injury for the last three weeks.
Jurgen Klopp confirmed at the end of October that noting in the Spaniard’s knee is ruptured or broken, suggesting it is more just a heavy knock. But as the Liverpool boss explained at the time, that offers little when it comes to predicting when he might be back.
Ahead of facing Manchester City, it is clear that Klopp was preparing for the game when he withdrew Jordan Henderson at half-time against Atalanta in midweek and replaced him with Gini Wijnaldum, giving both players a limit of just 45 minutes each to keep them fresh.
Klopp employed a similar tactic with Henderson in the Champions League last week when it was pre-determined that the skipper would come off after just over an hour against Midtjylland.
But the Liverpool Echo notes that Thiago’s absence from training on Thursday puts a major question mark over whether he will be ready for the trip to Manchester, certainly as a starter.
Even if he is fit enough to be involved it would be a big ask for him to return to the XI straightaway when he has played just 135 minutes of football all season and not at all for three weeks.
With Fabinho ruled out through injury – chances are he might have been filling in at the back anyway in place of Virgil van Dijk had he been fit – and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also missing, it leaves Klopp with a hole to fill if Thiago doesn’t make it, as may be the case.
His options for that role include Naby Keita, who played 25 minutes from the bench against Atalanta but hasn’t appeared in the Premier League since the 7-2 thrashing against Aston Villa, or Curtis Jones, who has started each of the last two Liverpool games.
James Milner’s experience could also make him a tempting option for Klopp, even though the veteran is yet to start a Premier League game so far this season.
Source : 90min