Multiple reports suggest Liverpool have reached a decision on whether to play Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk against Southampton on Tuesday.
Man City’s draw with West Ham has breathed new life into Liverpool’s quest for the quadruple. A City draw with Aston Villa on final day, combined with two Reds wins against the Saints and Wolves would see Liverpool crowned champions.
Jurgen Klopp’s side already have the League Cup and FA Cup in the bank, though securing the latter came at a cost.
Salah and Van Dijk both went off with minor injuries at Wembley, putting their availability for the trip to St. Mary’s in doubt.
Van Dijk has once again been Liverpool’s best defender this season, while Salah is both the club’s top scorer and top assister.
The Reds now have excellent strength in depth, but fielding an 11 without that pair will undoubtedly make it weaker.
But with the Champions League final still to come, both the Times and Mirror suggest Jurgen Klopp will roll the dice with his squad players against Southampton and not risk Salah or Van Dijk.
Liverpool won’t throw caution to the wind
The Times state the pair are ‘set to miss’ the clash with Southampton on Tuesday night. It’s expressly stated Klopp is seeking to ‘protect their fitness’ ahead of the UCL final in Paris in two weeks’ time.
The Mirror echo that sentiment, adding that of the two, Van Dijk is the bigger concern for the Real Madrid showdown.
The Dutchman felt a twinge in his knee and was substituted when the match went to extra time after soldiering on in normal time.
“I felt [it] in the first half when I did a sprint in the channel,” said Van Dijk in the aftermath. “[I] played 20 minutes, or something like that, with a little twinge behind the knee.
“I played on but, in the end, I can’t risk it for the team and I need to trust Joel (Matip). We’re going to check it out. Hopefully, it will be fine.”
Salah’s issue was groin tightness, though the Egyptian insisted post-match he won’t miss significant time.
Klopp right to protect Salah, Van Dijk?
If there is even the smallest hint that playing against Southampton could aggravate their injuries, then Liverpool are correct to proceed with caution.
Two wins in the league still won’t be enough to lift the title if City beat Villa at home on final day. What’s more, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate have both shone this season and should be a partnership more than capable of dealing with what the Saints can throw their way.
Should Klopp choose to rest Konate – who played 120 minutes at Wembley – Joe Gomez will be chomping at the bit for an opportunity.
In the forward line, Roberto Firmino is now back to full fitness and can offset Salah’s absence. A front three consisting of Firmino, Diogo Jota and potentially Divock Origi may have enough to cause the Saints problems. If not, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz will be ready to go from the bench.