Football

Klopp: Matip saga is unfair

Club-versus-country row over Cameroonian affecting Pool manager's plans

LIVERPOOL SWANSEA

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp believes the stand-off between the club, Cameroon and Fifa over the eligibility of Joel Matip is unfair.

The Reds are caught up in a red-tape wrangle over the availability of their centre back, who insists he has retired from international football having not played since September 2015.

However, Cameroon, competing at the African Nations Cup, are refusing to sanction his release to play for his club as they consider the player to have rejected their approach to name him in their squad.

Liverpool are confident that they and Matip have followed the correct procedure and asked Fifa to rule on the player's status.

But the club have had to pull him from the last two match-day squads having not received the necessary assurances.

Fifa was scheduled to make a decision yesterday, but that has not helped Klopp's pre-match planning for the visit of Swansea.

"I don't have an update. Fifa mentioned to us Friday would be D-Day," said the German. "The Matip case is obviously, for us, special and we do not feel it is fair.

BEYOND CONTROL

"We do what we can, but we cannot change it and we cannot turn it in our direction because we want it.

"It is difficult in this position because with the fixtures... we don't have a lot of training time and you have to work with the team which could start in the next game.

"And when you're not sure what to do with Joel, he is not that involved.

"But it is not about the African Nations Cup: I absolutely do not have a problem with the African Nations Cup.

"I have respect for all what they are doing there in the most difficult circumstances still."

Liverpool have suffered due to the African Nations Cup with the loss of top-scorer Sadio Mane.

The forward has scored twice in the two group matches so far, meaning Senegal will qualify for the latter stages and Liverpool will miss him longer.

Klopp admitted he is conflicted between what is best for the club and what is best for the player.

"I am happy for you but, on the other side, I could really kick you in the... lower back," added Klopp when asked what he had said to Mane about his progress in the tournament.

"They are through which is good. He played again, scored again. I texted him last night, but mixed emotions is probably the best description. As long as he is fit, then we take it like it is and support Senegal."

Philippe Coutinho is closing in on a return to the Reds' first XI after coming through their FA Cup third-round replay 1-0 win at Plymouth unscathed.

As for Swansea, new boys Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll are available for the trip to Anfield.

But Luciano Narsingh's debut is set to be delayed again as the Dutch winger has yet to recover from a calf problem. - PA SPORT

eplliverpoolafrica