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BREAK TIME IS OVER... SO WHO WILL KLOPP TURN TO AGAINST ARSENAL?

Byline: IAN DOYLE Football writer

After a brief respite, Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool staf f have been back at work plotting a return to winning ways this week.

International breaks are often fraught with danger for the Reds boss as he keeps his fingers crossed and merely hopes that his top stars remain unscathed while outside the care of the club's staf. f.

And on that particular front, it has not been an ideal couple of weeks for Liverpool, who have seen Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane, Andy Robertson and Divock Origi all pick up knocks of late.

Scotland captain Robertson suffered some tightness in his hamstring during their 2-0 win over Denmark on Monday and while a Tuesday scan revealed no lasting damage, the left-back is still rated as a doubt for Saturday's visit from Arsenal.

Robertson was withdrawn with over 10 minutes to play at Hampden Park but may yet be ready to play a part as he continues to rest up before the weekend.

But given his importance to the overall picture, Kostas Tsimikas is waiting in the wings if it is decided to simply err on the side of caution.

Such instances are exactly why Tsimikas was recruited in the summer of 2020, to ease the burden on Robertson and the amount of game-time demanded of him.

There is more positive news where Henderson and Mane are concerned, at least, with both back in training at the AXA Centre this week.

Henderson, who suffered a minor problem during England's 5-0 win over Albania, was training separately to an individual plan after returning to club duties.

Klopp always prefers his players to have full sessions with the main group before they are generally considered available for selection, so there is time on the captain's side as he aims to make his 301st Liverpool appearance in the Premier League.

Mane's rib issue is not thought to be too serious, despite being withdrawn after less than half an hour of Senegal's 1-1 draw with Togo last week.

He was well enough to take part in a full session this week and is ready to be included in the thinking for Saturday's game against Mikel Arteta's side.

The international break also gave Klopp the chance to run the rule over some of the club's most promising youngsters as a handful of them were picked to train with their more senior colleagues this week.

| Liverpool's could feature

Discus- s i ons between elite development coach Vitor Matos, Klopp and Academy director Alex Inglethorpe are regular and the lines of communication stay open as Liverpool look to test the youngsters at international intervals.

A key detail of the club's decision to move to the AXA Centre last year was to make it easier from a logistics standpoint to move the hopefuls up to senior level.

In the past, that involved ferrying players across from Kirkby to the Melwood base in West Derby, with many making the sixand-a-half-mile journey often at short notice.

Nowadays, the close proximity of the two sites makes it easier for Klopp and assistants Pep Lijnders and Peter Krawietz to get a closer look at whoever is earning impressive feedback from Matos.

Kostas Tsimikas against Arsenal "It has helped massively, it's a nice analogy to think of it as moving into a new house," says one senior member of staf f at Liverpool. "You need to get used to the new house.

"It's beautiful with the material that has been chosen for the space, so it helps us to provide what we could already provide at Melwood in a different style. It's a different environment and it's a different vibe but it's nice for us to have such a fantastic working environment and surroundings.

"It's a brand new, top facility."

Kaide Gordon and Tyler Morton, who both made their senior debuts in the Carabao Cup win at Norwich in September, have taken part in sessions this week, while Melkamu Fraudendorf, Mateusz Musialowski, Max Woltman, James Norris and Jarell Quansah also played.

With Klopp likely to use a clutch of Academy starlets for that Carabao Cup quarter-final with Leicester next month, the opportunity to catch the manager's eye will be one everyone will be desperate to take.

""here's always a spot for these young boys," Klopp told the DAILY POST last month and with Harvey Blair and Conor Bradley also earning debuts already this term, the chance is there to be grasped.

Two others who are likely to receive chances of their own in the coming weeks are Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino.

With the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon looming in the New Year, opportunity will knock for both attackers as Liverpool get set to wave temporary goodbye to Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita.

Both Origi and Minamino may find themselves starting in the Champions League meetings with Porto and AC Milan on November 24 and December 7, respectively.

The pair will be entrusted to fire Liverpool to the Carabao Cup semi-final at home to Leicester on December 22 too.

Liverpool are unlikely to add to their ranks as things stand in the January transfer window, despite the absence of Salah and Mane for an AFCON that begins on January 9 and ends on February 6.

The Reds' are also not thought to be exploring the market for midfield options in the New Year either, despite links to Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, to name just three.

Senior sources have dismissed the prospect of a move for Leeds United's Phillips and West Ham star Rice, and any interest there is in Bellingham will not manifest itself in the January transfer window.

One issue that Klopp has not had to contend with this international break has been the whereabouts of his Brazilian contingent. Roberto Firmino continues to work with the medical department as he nurses a hamstring injury that Klopp estimated would keep the striker sidelined for four weeks.

Liverpool feel the Brazil international is a quicker healer and hope he will return before that monthlong assessment, but Firmino will not be part of the squad for the weekend.

Two Selecao stars who will, however, are Alisson Becker and Fabinho.

The two Reds men boarded a private jet alongside fellow Premier League stars Gabriel Jesus, Ederson, Fred and Raphinha after their goalless draw with Argentina on Tuesday.

After butting heads with the Brazilian Football Confederation in September over an unwillingness to release Alisson and Fabinho to play in red-list countries, they were then sent directly to Madrid last month after their stint with their national side was over.

Liverpool initially tried to move the kick-of f time against Watford back in an effort to have both available at Vicarage Road, but were forced to fly the duo straight to the Spanish capital for the Champions League meeting with Atletico Madrid instead.

"It was because we play at 12:30, and there is no chance we could play them, so that's when we thought we then sent them to [Madrid]," Klopp said prior to the 5-0 win over the Hornets on October 16.

"It's not that we thought 'oh let's see.' .' If we would've played [later] tonight, we could've given it a try, but we play at 12:30, so there was no chance.

"Who was it [who had] the idea to bring us at 12:30? Was it Watford?

"If you (BT Sport) wouldn't have said it, we would've had to reply. Ah yeah, thank you for your help, really, thank you, thank you very much."

" It should be noted that Liverpool and Brazil have since come to afirm understanding regarding the situation, with the South Americans' director of football, former Middlesbrough star Juninho, working to try and limit the disruption to both parties back in September.

It is understood Juninho was in constant contact with Alisson and Fabinho during the September impasse, working behind the scenes to find a solution that appealed to both CFB and Liverpool.

Anfield officials were hugely impressed by Juninho's willingness to engage on the matter to try and do what worked best for everyone concerned.

This time, however, there will be no such issues for Klopp to deal with and both Fabinho and Alisson will be ready for Arsenal.

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Liverpool's Kostas Tsimikas could feature against Arsenal
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:IAN DOYLE Football writer
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 19, 2021
Words:1384
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