Liverpool face Mohamed Salah decision with major Thiago Alcantara dilemma

With just under two weeks until Liverpool return to action, all Jurgen Klopp can do now is keep his fingers crossed.

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are set to go head-to-head in a crucial two-legged World Cup qualifier before the end of the month and the Reds boss will be praying both return to Merseyside unscathed.

The same applies to two thirds of his Brazilian contingent when Roberto Firmino and Fabinho depart for games with Chile and Bolivia.

As a critical April begins to swing into view, Klopp can ill afford to be without his big guns, even allowing for a top-quality squad that is without any long-term injury concerns right now.

So while it is difficult at this stage to assess just how Liverpool will line up when Watford visit on April 2, there is a school of thought that suggests some rotation might be the order of the day.

Klopp is fully aware of the nine-game April stretch that could make or break the campaign, admitting as much pitch-side at the City Ground after the 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Sunday night.

He said: “So now we have Watford, Benfica, Man City, Benfica, Man City, Manchester United, Everton. “From a Liverpool perspective, these are all massive games and we try to play them one at a time.”

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Klopp is right to urge the need to play one game at a time right now, but with a daunting few weeks on the horizon, will there be some merit in keeping the big hitters as fully rested as possible when Watford roll into Merseyside?

Roy Hodgson’s struggling side arrives at Anfield having taken just 22 points from 29 games so far and their fate is looking perilous as they sit in the drop zone heading into the final weeks of the campaign.

And while some will urge against a sting in the Hornets’ tail at Anfield on April 2, a well-rested Liverpool XI will be confident of going top of the Premier League for the first time this year in the lunchtime kick-off.

Alisson Becker is not on international duty at present having not been called up for Brazil action, so he will continue in goal behind a back four that is likely to contain Joe Gomez on the right in place of the hamstrung Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The West Derby-born defender is believed to be progressing well on the injury recovery front but will not be risked with Man City up next after Watford on April 10. Joel Matip could earn a recall alongside Virgil van Dijk at the back, despite Ibrahima Konate’s rock-solid showing at Forest.

On the left side, Andy Robertson’s COVID-19 diagnosis should have passed by April 2 but Kostas Tsimikas waits in reserve if the Scotland captain needs an extra few days to get back to full fitness.

Injury-permitting, Fabinho will be available for the game but having likely featured for Brazil against Bolivia in the early hours of Wednesday morning, might Klopp opt for Jordan Henderson as his No.6?

Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both vying for a place in the middle as are Naby Keita and Harvey Elliott.

Thiago Alcantara is fit and ready but with a less-than-perfect injury record at Anfield, might the classy Spaniard be held back for the Etihad? That is the big midfield dilemma for Klopp.

Up top, might this be another chance to continue the resting of Salah and Mane? Both will be desperate to feature but with Diaz, Firmino and Diogo Jota also available, perhaps the opportunity to keep the two African sharpshooters in reserve might be too strong?

One thing is for certain for the Liverpool boss right now, at least; he has plenty of thinking time when he comes to his next team selection. That is rarely the case.


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