Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Diogo Jota is still ‘a few’ weeks away from making his return to action from injury. However, centre-back Joel Matip is in contention for Thursday night’s Premier League clash with Burnley.
Matip has missed Liverpool’s last four games in all competitions, with Jordan Henderson, Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams all filling in at one time or another alongside Fabhino at the back.
The Reds kept clean sheets in two of those games, but have not won since before Matip’s injury at home to West Brom on Boxing Day.
It would be a welcome relief for the experienced 29-year-old to step back into the team this week, not least because it means Henderson can get back to what he does best in the heart of midfield.
“Joel is in full training and we [will] make a decision. [He] trained normal,” Klopp said as he spoke to the media ahead of the game at Anfield.
The latest news on Jota is more of a blow. The Portugal international scored nine goals in his first 17 Liverpool appearances following a £45m transfer from Wolves, but has not been seen since suffering a knock to his knee in early December.
“Diogo is a few weeks away,” the boss confirmed. “Will not be next one or two. He needs time. How much I miss him is not important. I am not allowed to miss him. He is not there and we deal with it.”
In Jota’s absence, Klopp has been unable to rest any of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino without seeing a drop in quality, which is putting undue pressure on the main front three amid the congested fixture list and resulting in Liverpool struggling to score enough goals.
Indeed, the Reds have only scored one Premier League goal in four games since Christmas and have slipped from first place down into fourth because of the slump.
In addition to missing the Burnley game this week, Jota will be out for the FA Cup clash with Manchester United at the weekend, and follow up Premier League fixtures against Tottenham, West Ham and Brighton. Even Manchester City on 6 February might come too soon.