Sunday, June 26, 2022

Salah and Van Dijk have been named on the Liverpool bench for the Premier League decider against Wolves

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Both players have been crucial for Liverpool this season but only return to the bench after a week struggling with injuries

The Reds need to improve on current leaders Manchester City’s result against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa to overtake them, win the title and keep their quadruple hopes alive.

Jurgen Klopp has called up Premier League top scorer Mo Salah and key centre-back Virgil Van Dijk on the bench for Liverpool’s final Premier League game of the season against Wolves.

Salah and Van Dijk are key players for Klopp’s side, meaning their inclusion in such a crucial game would under normal circumstances be seen as read.

But both players picked up injuries in last Saturday’s FA Cup final win over Chelsea that ruled them out of Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Southampton.

Their inclusion on the bench today is therefore more of a step up than a step down, as Klopp said in his pre-match press conference that he was keen for them to make it into his matchday squad.

“My preferred solution would be that they could all play for rhythm at the weekend, stuff like that, or at least sit on the bench and then we can use them or not,” he said.

“Mo doesn’t want to take any chances – no question – but it’s looking good.”

Of course, with the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday, Klopp doesn’t want to risk compounding either player’s injuries ahead of such a crucial game.

Liverpool’s starting line-up is hardly weak even in the absence of Salah and Van Dijk, with the impressive Ibrahima Konate in the middle half and an impressive front three of Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane at the top.

Still, it remains to be seen whether Klopp will regret his absence, even if forced.

Salah, starting on the bench, will also reduce his chances of securing the Premier League Golden Boot. He currently leads by 22 goals, but Spurs’ Son Heung-min is just one back.

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