Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Virgil van Dijk is fully fit to start for Liverpool against Leeds United on Sunday, while Alisson and Fabinho are now able to feature, as well.
The duo were set to be unavailable at Elland Road after Fifa upheld Brazil’s request to ban their players. Per Sky Sports, Fifa applied Article 5, which blocked Premier League clubs from calling on those they refused to allow accept call-ups for international duty this month.
Liverpool were one of the most heavily-affected clubs by the rule, with Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino impacted. But Fifa cleared Brazilians to feature on Friday after extensive talks with relevant associations. Klopp was already due to be without the Firmono, however, as the forward sustained a hamstring injury against Chelsea.
Alisson’s absence would have been a big blow for Klopp on Sunday with the 28-year-old his first-choice goalkeeper. Caoimhin Kelleher could have come in to the Liverpool line-up at Leeds for only the 22-year-old’s third Premier League appearance.
Klopp handed the Republic of Ireland international his top-flight bow last December against Wolves. He again guarded the Reds’ net against Brighton in February, and displayed plenty of promise. But he will now likely have to wait for another chance with Alisson available.
Klopp will also be relieved to have Van Dijk at hand after he limped off for the Netherlands. The centre-back missed most of 2020/21 after sustaining cruciate ligament damage in October, but has started all three games this season.
Klopp said on Friday, via LiverpoolFC.com: “With Virgil, that was obviously a scary moment, you can imagine. I sent him a message after the game: ‘Are you alright?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘100 per cent?’ ‘200 per cent.’”
Firmino absence leaves Klopp with Liverpool line-up choice vs Leeds
Klopp also confirmed Harvey Elliott is available to face Leeds, so should retain his starting place. A role could have become vacant next to Jordan Henderson if Fabinho was out. James Milner was yet to return to training, so Naby Keita could have returned to the line-up.
“Harvey is fine again,” Klopp added. “Millie, we have to see. Millie has to be part of team training yet, he was not part of team training so far, so we will see what he can do today. But he will get closer definitely.
“Naby is fine. Yesterday, he was not here [at training], but he was in Liverpool. I will have a chat with him today. But from what I know from all the calls and talks we had, he’s fine.”
Klopp does, however, face a selection dilemma in Liverpool’s attack when naming the line-up to face Leeds on Sunday. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will occupy the wide slots, with Diogo Jota will likely coming in for Firmino.
The £90k-a-week Portuguese started the Reds’ first two games with Norwich and Burnley, but Klopp benched him against Chelsea. Jota had even scored against the Canaries and Clarets, only Salah also has two goals for the Reds thus far this term. The German was forced to revert his decision in the first-half, however, once Firmino sustained his injury.
Predicted Liverpool line-up vs Leeds: Alisson (GK), Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Elliott, Henderson, Salah, Jota, Mane