Jurgen Klopp admits Emre Can is unlikely to prevail in his race against time to be fit for Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester City.
The German is still recovering from a back injury that saw him substituted in the first half of Liverpool’s 5-0 win over Watford in the Premier League last month.
Since then, Can has missed Germany’s friendlies against Spain and Brazil as well as Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
A seemingly innocuous issue now looks set to rule him out of arguably the club’s biggest game of the season, adding to a late injury crisis for Klopp’s men.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “I’m always open to wait for better news but I don’t expect it, to be 100 per cent honest. It could be not enough time for tomorrow night, but maybe then Everton or Tuesday. It should not be too long. But talking about tomorrow, I don’t think so.”
Liverpool will also be without defender Joel Matip, who is expected to undergo an operation on a thigh injury he sustained at the weekend and consequently miss the remainder of the season.
To make matters worse, Ragnar Klavan will also be missing on Wednesday night to leave Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren as the only two fit centre-backs available.
That being said, Liverpool’s front three have proven a constant menace this season regardless of who the seven outfield players behind them have been.
James Milner has enjoyed a timely rise to form of late and injected added box-to-box expertise to compliment and cover Andrew Robertson’s attacking ambition down the left-hand side as well as exploiting the space Sadio Mane so often leaves when cutting in on his right foot.
It is across from him in midfield where questions lie, with the threat of Leroy Sane potentially giving Klopp a key decision to make regarding how to support young Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back.
Whether it be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Georginio Wijnaldum, though the latter hasn’t been in great form lately, the Reds have energy and athleticism in abundance to combat the winger’s explosiveness.
In one of his most important games of his Liverpool tenure, Klopp has food for thought.