EPL

Fabinho, Lovren close on return but Reds without Milner, Keita for Spurs trip

By Sports Desk January 10, 2020

Jurgen Klopp expects to have Fabinho and Dejan Lovren back in full training next week but James Milner and Naby Keita are unavailable for Liverpool's trip to Tottenham.

Defensive midfielder Fabinho has been absent since the end of November after sustaining ankle ligament damage in the 1-1 Champions League draw against Napoli.

Centre-back Lovren was enjoying a run in the team but has been out for a month due to a muscular issue, with Joe Gomez having impressed alongside Virgil van Dijk at the back for the unbeaten Premier League leaders.

However, both players are closing on a return that could come as soon as next weekend's clash with fierce rivals Manchester United.

"Dejan and Fabinho we expect to be back next week in full training, if that's early enough for the United game we will see," Klopp said. 

"They're working really hard, going through the paces, it's good."

Midfield duo Milner and Keita will sit out the clash in north London on Saturday due to muscle injuries.

"James and Naby are unavailable. Both muscles, different, and for different people," Klopp added. 

"Not a timeframe on it. We are open whenever they want to join us, when the medical team gives us the green light. Not this week, or next week, then we will see."

Klopp comes up against a familiar foe this weekend in Jose Mourinho, with Liverpool's 3-1 triumph over United in December 2018 seeing the Portuguese sacked by the Red Devils.

Liverpool boss Klopp is expecting to face a well-drilled Tottenham side, who will have to do without prolific captain Harry Kane.

"I'm expecting a very organised Tottenham side, yes," he added. "Putting some emphasis on defending for sure, using the counter-attacks, but team is too good technically to do just that.

"[Christian] Eriksen, [Dele] Alli, [Giovani] Lo Celso, lots of midfielders who can create situations, the speed they have with Lucas [Moura] and Son [Heung-min] too. 

"It could be [Serge] Aurier and [Ryan] Sessegnon are on the wings on top of that with speed.

" We cannot be 100 per cent sure what they will do but we have signs from what Mourinho did at Man United against us. Different teams and players though. That is normal. Our analysis always ends quite a way from the truth. It is the same for us, we want to be unpredictable.

"Mourinho is a world-class manager with a specific mindset. He wants to win. I respect that a lot. Each situation his team is in he tries to use. That is how managers work."

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    "Fabinho can play the position, he likes playing it actually. If I would have asked him to play right-back I don't think he would enjoy it as much as he's enjoying the centre-half position. In our situation in the moment we have to keep those boys fit and then they can of course help us a lot. I'm not surprised he plays well in the position otherwise we would have thought about a different solution, even when that would have been properly tricky.

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