Liverpool trio leave Jurgen Klopp sweating on availability for Premier League opener

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is sweating on the availability of three first-team stars ahead of Saturday’s Premier League opener against Fulham at Craven Cottage. The Reds begin their hunt for a record-levelling 20th top-flight title in west London, but there could be a few names missing from the travelling party.

Klopp’s squad finalised their pre-season schedule at the weekend, beating Manchester City to win the Community Shield on Saturday before a team of fringe players and youngsters were beaten 3-0 by RC Strasbourg a day later. And it seems they didn’t enter the first week of the new campaign unscathed.

Konate limped off in the second half against Strasbourg and immediately walked down the tunnel for further assessment. Meanwhile, Curtis Jones was absent on Sunday, along with Naby Keita, who Klopp has confirmed was ill. The German coach also explained he didn’t take any risks with Jones after he picked up a niggle during his brief cameo against Man City.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Klopp suggested that despite Konate’s Strasbourg scare, his injury doesn’t look to be serious. He said: “We don’t know exactly yet on Ibou [Konate], but it doesn’t look too concerning, so I hope we caught it at the right moment. Naby is ill, and Curtis felt [something] a little bit, and we couldn’t take any risks.”

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Klopp added that Jones wanted to play against Strasbourg, but after picking up a knock without contact, the medical department advised against him featuring. “Curtis, we have to see,” Klopp continued.

“[There] was no impact or whatever, so that always makes it a bit, ‘My god, what could it be?’ We had no time; he felt it today, and he wanted to play desperately, but then the medical department said no and that we needed to make further tests. We will do that tomorrow, and then we will know more.”

While none of the trio would be considered certain starters among Klopp’s first-choice team, they are valuable options off the bench at the very least. And with five substitutions re-introduced into the Premier League this season, they will no doubt play an important role this season.

His comments suggest there is hope Konate will be ready to at least make the bench at Fulham, and Keita’s illness should have passed. Liverpool have all the momentum after bettering Man City in Saturday’s clash, and they will aim to set the pace in what could be another enthralling title race this weekend.

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