Friday 24 November 2017

Matip cleared to face Swans

Liverpool's Joel Matip. Photo: Dave Howarth/PA Wire
Liverpool's Joel Matip. Photo: Dave Howarth/PA Wire

Carl Markham

Liverpool defender Joel Matip has been cleared to play by FIFA after it dismissed the club-versus-country case which had been rumbling on for several weeks.

The Reds confirmed that the world governing body has said there is no case against the centre-back, who has maintained he has retired from international football and did not want to play for Cameroon despite their attempts to call him up for the African Nations Cup.

It means Matip, who was withdrawn from the last two matchday squads because of confusion over his availability, is immediately eligible to play.

However, as the decision came so late, it is doubtful whether the player will be involved for today's lunchtime kick-off at home to Swansea.

Klopp had earlier bemoaned the uncertainty around the decision, given the amount of fixtures the Reds are facing.

"It is difficult in this position, because with the fixtures we have at the moment, we don't have a lot of training time," said the manager.

"You have to work with the team which could start in the next game and when you're not sure what to do with Joel, he is not that involved. I had to put me outside this case a little bit because I need my full concentration about other things.

"We knew about the Africa Cup of Nations and it is the same for all teams with African players. The Matip case is obviously, for us, special and we do not feel it is fair.

"We do what we can but we cannot change it and we cannot turn it in our direction because we want it. It is another experience which you don't need but we have to learn from it."

Klopp was at pains to suggest that his frustration is related specifically to the Matip case, rather than the scheduling of the Cup of Nations, which is set to finish on February 5.

He accepts that European clubs who sign African players must cope with the prospect of losing them for more than a month in the middle of their domestic season every two years.

He said: "I absolutely do not have a problem with the African Cup of Nations, it is the opposite.

"I have respect for all what they are doing there in the most difficult circumstances still. It is a great tournament. In the middle of our season makes it not too cool but that is not my decision."

Klopp did joke about having mixed emotions after his forward Sadio Mane helped ensure Senegal would progress from the group stages, and extend their stay at the tournament, by scoring in a 2-0 win over Zimbabwe on Thursday.

"I thought: I am happy for you but on the other side I could really kick you in. . . the lower back," Klopp said. "They are through, which is good. He played again, scored again.

"I texted him last night but mixed emotions is probably the best description. As long as he is fit then we take it like it is and support Senegal."

Liverpool v Swansea, Live, BT Sport 1, 12.30

Irish Independent

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