Liverpool International: injuries and fatigue a major concern with 21 Reds expected to feature in international fixtures
Liverpool pair Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum endured a frustrating Wednesday night on international duty, while summer signing Diogo Jota earned much praise for his exciting display after being introduced in the final 11 minutes of Portugal’s goalless draw with Spain in Lisbon.
Both Van Dijk and Wijnaldum started for the Netherlands in their 1-0 defeat by Mexico in Amsterdam. However, the Liverpool defender only played in the first half of the friendly while Wijnaldum was later withdrawn shortly after the hour mark.
Elsewhere, Curtis Jones and Rhys Williams made their England under-21 debuts in the Young Lions’ U21 European Championship qualifier in Andorra, which ended in a 3-3 draw after the hosts equalised in stoppage time.
Williams, who was called in from the under-20 squad ahead of the trip, played the full match while his counterpart, Jones enjoyed 75 minutes and created his side’s second goal before being substituted.
After their miserable 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday, the Reds have seen 21 first-team players called up for international duty, including Fabinho and Roberto Firmino who would have to endure a long travel time to Brazil and back to England within the two weeks period.
After the break, Liverpool will face Everton in a Merseyside derby as they bid to retain the league title which all online betting sites have made them favourites for. Jurgen Klopp’s main concern is that all of his boys would return healthy from the International break, with only two days to prepare for the game against the Toffees.
Of course, with the busy domestic calendars in the world of football, it is frustrating to see FIFA and UEFA agree to push on with the demand for World Cup qualifiers and the UEFA Nations League fixtures amid a global crisis.
Asides the risk of injury which is peculiar to international breaks, managers have now added the risk of COVID-19 to their list of worries and Klopp has a lot to worry about with 21 of his senior squad called out on duty.
The Reds have both Sadio Mane and Thiago already in self-isolation due to the virus. As a result, both will miss out on international duty for Senegal and Spain respectively while goalkeeper Alisson has also been excluded from the Brazil squad due to injury.
Xherdan Shaqiri will also not feature in Switzerland’s UEFA Nations League ties after being tested positive for COVID-19. However, Diogo Jota with Portugal and Marko Grujic with Serbia will be ready to help their team progress in the competition.
The trio of Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez are all in the England squad to play Wales, Belgium and Denmark, with Neco Williams, Ben Woodburn and Harry Wilson in the Welsh team and Divock Origi listed in the Belgium squad.
Both Fabinho and Roberto Firmino are in the Brazil squad to play Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier before the team take another trip to face Peru.
The duo will be expected at the Merseyside late on Thursday, after which they will undergo a COVID-19 test on their return. This means the manager will be unsure whether they can feature in the game against Everton until hours before kickoff.
Other players on duty include Takumi Minamino with Japan, Naby Keita with Guinea, who have both been called up for international friendlies by their respective national teams.
With Curtis Jones and Rhys Williams debuting for the England under-21 on Wednesday, Liverpool also have Harvey Elliott with the England under-19 squad.
Liverpool first-team players invited for international duty: Kelleher, Van Dijk, Gomez, R.Williams, Koumetio, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, N.Williams, Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keita, Jones, Grujic, Wilson, Jota, Minamino, Origi, Firmino, Elliott, Shaqiri.
Left out: Adrian, Matip (retired, injured), Phillips, Van den Berg, Tsimikas (injured), Milner (retired), Salah, Mane (COVID-19), Thiago (COVID-19), Oxlade-Chamberlain (injured).