Soccer

Alisson Becker injury ‘not as bad’ as Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp first feared

Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher will face LASK (Peter Byrne/PA)
Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher will face LASK (Peter Byrne/PA) Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher will face LASK (Peter Byrne/PA)

Injury has ruled out Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker for more than a fortnight but manager Jurgen Klopp admits it could have been worse and the Brazilian should be fit to face Manchester United next month.

The keeper appeared to sustain a hamstring problem late in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City and although he managed to complete the match he is set to miss the next five matches – two of which he would not have played in as Caoimhin Kelleher deputises in the Europa League.

Alisson will miss European ties against LASK and Union Saint-Gilloise as well as Premier League games against Fulham, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace but should make a timely return for the visit of their arch-rivals on December 17.

Forward Diogo Jota was also injured in City game but his prognosis is not as good.

“Both are out. Ali is a bit lesser, so we have to see. Not day by day – he cannot play tomorrow or Sunday. Probably not the week after should be kind of OK,” Klopp said ahead of the Europa League visit of LASK.

“Alisson is not as bad (as we thought) but still bad enough. Diogo will take a little bit longer, don’t know exactly. Have to see.”

Kelleher has made only five appearances this season but last played back-to-back matches in January 2022 and has never played more than three matches in a row in his Liverpool career.

In the summer there was speculation about the 25-year-old wanting to seek first-team football elsewhere but Klopp said the current situation was exactly why the Republic of Ireland international was persuaded to stay.

“Yes, that’s pretty much exactly it. That’s why we knew we wanted to have Caoimh here for these moments,” added the Liverpool boss.

“Nobody, Caoimh as well, wanted Ali to get injured, but if these things happen then you need the strongest possible option and that’s Caoimh for us.

“That’s the only positive about that, to be honest, that we can put in Caoimh. That’s fine.

“Now he gets an opportunity that he deserves, he would have played tomorrow night anyway, that’s clear, but now he will have a few more games and hopefully he can show his full potential.”

Defeat in Toulouse earlier this month made Liverpool’s task of guaranteeing top spot in the group – and thereby avoiding a play-off round in the knockout stages – slightly more difficult but it could be secured on Thursday at home to LASK if Union Saint-Gilloise beat the second-placed Ligue 1 side.

But Klopp rejected the suggestion that result was a reminder that his much-changed European sides have standards to maintain.

“It was not needed but it wasn’t helpful. It was three weeks ago and a lot of things happened since then. It just made the situation more difficult, that’s how it is,” he said.

“Toulouse was maybe a one-off performance-wise – it was around Luton (a 1-1 draw) which was not too great either – but this was in a very short period of time.

“Besides that the boys usually perform and that’s what we should concentrate on.

“We want to win tomorrow night and we want to win in Belgium as well but if we don’t win tomorrow night the game in Belgium, in a super intense period, will be tough so it’s all about performing tomorrow night and really going for it, that’s the idea.”