Liverpool frustrated as uncertainty over Joel Matip's availability continues

17 January 2017 02:38

Liverpool remain frustrated in their hopes of gaining greater clarity over the availability of Joel Matip.

Manager Jurgen Klopp was forced to pull the defender out of Sunday's game at Manchester United because of a dispute with Cameroon over his international status.

Matip was named in Cameroon's squad for the ongoing African Nations Cup in Gabon despite it being widely understood that he had retired from international football.

The Cameroonian Football Federation had a right to do this under FIFA rules and, with the player having not reported for duty, he could consequently be suspended from club football for the duration of the tournament.

The situation has surprised Liverpool because the club understood the 25-year-old's decision to retire - he has not represented Cameroon since September 2015 - had been respected.

Liverpool have since called on FIFA to step in but so far the world governing body has only highlighted its regulations.

Klopp resents the suggestion the club or Matip himself have wilfully gone against Cameroon's wishes. According to Klopp, FIFA has said it is considering whether to investigate but he is adamant the club have done nothing wrong.

Asked about the matter at a press conference to preview Wednesday's FA Cup third-round replay at Plymouth, Klopp said: "There are not a lot of times in my life when I have been in a situation like this, not even a similar situation.

"I don't want to blame anybody but I think our supporters deserve to know about the process we are in.

"In this moment, we are sure we did nothing wrong. We are sure Joel Matip did nothing wrong. He didn't play for Cameroon since 2015. Since he has been here he has not been a Cameroon national player.

"In this moment he is not in the squad of Cameroon, so he cannot play for them, but in this moment we have not a 100 per cent guarantee he could play for us. That is the situation."

Matip, signed from Schalke last summer, recently recovered from an ankle injury and Klopp was keen to get him back into action but he expects not to be able to play him at Home Park.

He said: "I would consider lining him up tomorrow but I don't know if I can. From the sports side it would make sense - perfect game for him, but I am not sure if I can."

Regarding contact with FIFA, he added: "FIFA told us that this Friday they will decide if they open a case on it or not.

"I accept rules in life but I think they should always be based on human senses. For me, not a lawyer or a legal person, it is pretty difficult.

"If he had not been injured - but he was - then he couldn't have played from January 2. If FIFA opens a case - and I don't know but I don't think they will because we are sure everything is all right - then it would be 7-10 days until we get a decision.

"We conceded an offside goal at Man Utd. That doesn't feel good but I am kind of used to it. In this case it is really hard."

Liverpool travel to Plymouth looking to secure a fourth-round tie with Wolves after being held to a frustrating goalless draw by the League Two side last week.

"They are allowed to defend with all they have," said Klopp. "It is up to us."

Klopp confirmed Loris Karius would replace Simon Mignolet in goal for the game.

Source: PA