Liverpool V Southampton at Anfield : Match Preview

24 January 2017 06:34
Liverpool V Southampton - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Joel Matip set for Liverpool return against Southampton

Liverpool defender Joel Matip is set to make his return to the team for the EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Southampton.

The centre-back has not been in the starting line-up since December 11 because of injury and uncertainty over his eligibility but is now fully available.

After a late substitute appearance in the 3-2 defeat to Swansea and an hour for the under-23s on Sunday, Matip is ready to start versus Saints as Liverpool seek to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.

The three goals conceded against Swansea, who were bottom of the league when they arrived at Anfield, led to more questions about their defensive resilience but Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp stressed Matip will not single-handedly be the quick-fix solution to all their defensive problems.

"Of course, it's good because he is a really good player, but he was injured for six weeks," said Klopp.

"The other players had to play nearly all the time, that's more the problem in this time - not that Joel cannot play all of the time.

"But I understand football in a different way; the final mistake in the game sometimes it's the goalkeeper, sometimes it's the defender, sometimes it's somebody else, but most of the time there are seven or eight players involved - that's the defending I talk about.

"Everybody is responsible for everything and if you avoid this pass then your team-mate cannot make the last mistake.

"That's how we understand it, so it is not about one player or something.

"It's clear what we've done wrong and we really have to do better."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been playing with a heel problem but he is expected to play.

Southampton will await results of a scan on Virgil van DIjk to assess whether the defender will be available.

The Saints captain hobbled off in the 55th minute of their 3-0 Premier League win over Leicester on Sunday and remains a doubt for their trip to Merseyside.

Should Van Dijk miss out, England Under-21 international Jack Stephens, who came on as a substitute for the Dutchman, could deputise for Claude Puel's side.

When asked if the second leg would be a good experience for Stephens, Puel said: "If he has to play this game, I think he will play with good spirit and he's a good player.

"He is an England Under-21 international and he knows about these important games. He has the quality and I have full confidence with Jack. He's a good defender, he's intelligent, he can anticipate the action. Very good technically.

"With the under-21s, you saw at home (against Italy at St Mary's), it was a good game, he was the best player on the entire pitch.

"Since the beginning, it is a competition we have played with young players. For example, the last round against Arsenal away, we see the young players get a fantastic result.

"The focus was just on their game and this is just as important. They took confidence, they are upbeat in every training session. I think it is not a problem, but for Jack and all of the other players, it's just to think about the game, stay strong together."

Ryan Bertrand and Dusan Tadic should keep their places in the starting XI as Puel confirmed that he will play his strongest side at Anfield while Steven Davis could recover from a knock which has caused him to miss their last few games.

Source: PAR