Liverpool defender Joel Matip will have to be as­sessed for fitness before Sunday’s crucial Premier League clash with Man­chester United, says man­ager Jurgen Klopp.

Centre-back Matip has not played since the draw with West Brom on Decem­ber 27 due to an adductor problem, one of several Liverpool first-team play­ers afflicted by injury this season.

The German is back in training and could be fit for the top-of-the-table encoun­ter, however, Klopp stopped short of giving a definitive answer on whether Matip will be involved.

Liverpool have been particularly stretched in central defence this sea­son, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees. With Matip also out, midfielder and captain Jordan Henderson was forced into central defence for the 1-0 defeat to South­ampton.

Klopp is keen to get his skipper back into the mid­field engine room, but not at the expense of rushing players back too soon after injury.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Klopp said: “Joel is close. Does it now make sense to throw him into a game with one or two ses­sions, which he didn’t do yet, but today and tomorrow he might be involved?

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