Roberto Firmino is a doubt for Liverpool’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich after he was forced to miss the crucial final training session.
The Brazil striker, who is such an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s squad, was not at Melwood on Monday due to the effects of a virus.
It remains to be seen how debilitating the virus proves to be but there is certainly a question mark over whether Firmino will be able to make the starting line-up and, as a result, Daniel Sturridge is now on standby.
Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, pictured in Monday’s training session ahead of their meeting with Bayern Munich in the last-16 of the Champions League on Tuesday night
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mohamed Salah in training at Melwood on Monday afternoon
Jordan Henderson stretches during Monday’s training session ahead of the Bayern game
Mohamed Salah smiles as the Liverpool squad trained at Melwood ahead of the last-16 tie
Defender Virgil van Dijk pulls on a pair of gloves as he walks out alongside Joel Matip
One man who will definitely be missing against Munich is Dejan Lovren, who took no part in the session. The Croatia international has been struggling with a hamstring problem but had visited a strengthening coach to accelerate his rehabilitation.
Klopp hoped that Lovren would be able to take some part in the session at Melwood but his absence, along with the suspended Virgil van Dijk, means that Liverpool’s central defensive partnership is likely to be Fabinho and Joel Matip.
There was some good news at least for Klopp, though, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his comeback from a serious knee injury and was involved with the group. His rehabilitation is being carefully managed but the signs, at this stage, are positive for the England international.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was named in Liverpool’s Champions League squad for the knockout stages but Klopp believes the earliest he will be ready for selection in the squad – not starting matches – will be around the time of the quarter-finals in April.
Roberto Firmino and Dejan Lovren were absentees from Monday’s training session at Melwood
Mohamed Salah takes part in a training ground exercise in the Merseyside sunshine
Premier League unless stated
Tuesday Bayern Munich (H)
Champions League last-16, first leg
Sunday Manchester United (A)
February 27 Watford (H)
March 3 Everton (A)
March 10 Burnley (H)
March 13 Bayern Munich (A)
Champions League last-16, second leg
Speaking in his pre-game press conference earlier on Monday, Klopp confirmed that Lovren will need to be assessed ahead of the Bayern match.
Klopp said of his injury list: ‘We have yet to see. Shaq (Xherdan Shaqiri), yesterday he had a training session but we have to see how he reacted today, that was the plan for today, being in proper training. It’s good having another option. Shaqiri trained yesterday and looked very good.’
On Fabinho playing as a centre-back with Joel Matip in the absence of Lovren, Van Dijk and Gomez, Klopp said: ‘In the Champions League, against Bayern Munich, it’s not an easy job but we don’t want our last guy alone defending against (Bayern). It depends on how we defend in general and that’s it.
‘There will be a lot of moments where we have to defend and we’ve worked on that.’
Klopp has no doubt Liverpool fans would prefer winning the Premier League to the Champions League ahead of their tie with Bayern.
The Reds, who were last crowned English top-flight champions in 1990, are second in the Premier League on goal difference behind Manchester City, who have played one game more.
Alberto Moreno (left) leads the way during a training ground exercise ahead of Bayern Munich
A trip to fierce rivals Manchester United awaits on Sunday but the Merseyside outfit’s immediate focus is on the visit of the German champions.
Klopp knows what his club’s supporters would choose if they had to decide between the two competitions, but the Reds boss is determined to target victory in both.
‘It’s difficult for me to answer the question, but if you would have to decide, for all Liverpool fans it is the Premier League, that is clear, we know that,’ Klopp said.
‘But now we play Champions League and I think we all expect we will do our best tomorrow night. And thank God we don’t have to make that decision.
‘The only thing we can do is give it our all and play very passionate, lively football, the football people expect when they come to Anfield.
‘We expect a good atmosphere but we know about the part we have to play. But it will be outstanding tomorrow night.
‘I have experienced it now a couple of times, that our crowd is really able to push us from 100 to 120, 130, 140 per cent. It happened here from time to time, and hopefully tomorrow night again.’