Jurgen Klopp has named a 25-man squad for the trip to Portugal to face FC Porto in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday.
One name that surprised millions of Liverpool fans was that of Nathaniel Clyne. The right-back, who has missed the entire season with a back injury and had a surgery in December, was included in the 25-man squad.
“Clyney is back; of course, it is absolutely too early to think about him, but he is back in normal training, so that’s cool,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.
“He’s been training for two days but after that long of a break, it will take time until he is able to play.”
Joe Gomez, who missed the last two matches due to a knee problem, has recovered and also been named in the squad to face Porto. But the defender will be assessed by the medical team before the game in order to determine whether he can play a part against Porto or not.
“I don’t know yet if he’ll be available on Wednesday, but I think he has a chance,” our gaffer added.
“All he’s done so far has looked good, but it’s all been about waiting for the reaction. I saw him this morning, he looked good as well.
“We have a session tonight and tomorrow morning, so it depends on how he looks in training and then I will start thinking about it. I don’t want to make pressure or rush him; it would be cool if he is available but we will see.”
Emre Can, despite being suspended for the game, has travelled to Portugal, while Ragnar Klavan is fit and raring to go. When asked about the team’s shape, Klopp said:
“Our squad shape is OK in the moment, but we have a few things we are not too sure about. Joe needs to have a test tonight.
“We should be OK more or less – pretty much the only one who is completely out of the game on the plane is Emre Can because of his suspension. Raggy is good and he’s fit.”
Loris Karius impressed in the 2-0 win over Southampton on Sunday, making a couple of decent saves when the Reds were leading 1-0.
The German, who kept a clean sheet on the south coast, is set to retain his place on Wednesday, our boss has confirmed:
“Loris will start. For all goalkeepers it is the same, they need that [confidence]. I don’t like to talk too much about it because we are only interested in the next game, but [his performance at Southampton] was important.
“There were a few really good saves, important saves, good decisions – really smart decisions with quick restarts and stuff like that.
“He was involved in the game, was open and it was just a good performance from him.”
Young Polish keeper Kamil Grabara has also made the trip to Portugal along with Ben Woodburn and Dominic Solanke.
Asked about the challenge of facing Porto, Klopp told in his pre-match press conference:
“I respect Porto a lot – they are a mixture of football and fight. I like that. But we are not too bad either, and we want to show that. I know it’s [the tie is] a close race.”
“On a good day we are really strong but we need to be outstandingly strong tomorrow to get a result against Porto. That’s all we’re focused on.”
Roberto Firmino, who accompanied our gaffer to the press conference, also praised the Portuguese giants.
The Brazilian explained:
“Porto are an excellent team who are always in the Champions League. It’s going to be a tough game tomorrow. I know it’s going to be a very strong game tomorrow – physically and tactically.”
It will be an intense battle at Estadio do Dragao and let’s hope our team returns home with a positive result.
Liverpool squad in full: Karius, Mignolet, Ward, Grabara, Clyne, Van Dijk, Lovren, Gomez, Klavan, Moreno, Robertson, Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Wijnaldum, Milner, Henderson, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Can, Woodburn, Firmino, Salah, Mane, Ings and Solanke.