Liverpool will be without Dejan Lovren when they begin their Premier League campaign at home to West Ham this Sunday.
The Croatian was the last player to report for the team’s pre-season campaign, only arriving back at Melwood on Monday.
He arrived a day after England’s Jordan Henderson and Belgian’s Simon Mignolet having been granted an extended break after reaching the World Cup final.
Jurgen Klopp confirmed in Friday’s pre-match press conference that this weekend’s meeting with West Ham would come too soon for the defender.
He told reporters: “Dejan will not be available for the weekend,” per Liverpoolfc.com.
Discussing the fitness of his remaining central defenders, he added: “Ragnar [Klavan] has no real chance. Joel [Matip] did train in small parts like Joe [Gomez] did so we will see how they are today.”
Lovren produced an outstanding finish to the 2017/2018 season, capping off his resurgence with an admirable but unrewarded performance in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
His rise to form following the turn of the year and impressive campaign in Russia will likely see him reclaim his place as Klopp’s first-choice partner for Virgil van Dijk in defence once he is available to play again.
Until then, there could be a valuable opportunity for Gomez to begin his transition into his preferred central role and stake a claim for an extended run in the team.
The Englishman featured prominently throughout pre-season after missing the back end of the previous campaign with an ankle injury.
It marks a similarly important season for Matip, who struggled to find any consistency in his second year on Merseyside.
Klopp also clarified on Friday that it was illness that resulted in Fabinho missing Thursday’s training session, as opposed to the injury he underwent a scan on that day.
The Brazilian will now be watched closely as Liverpool make a decision on his availability for the weekend.