Joel Matip has revealed he is targeting a return to full training in the coming days, after a month out with an ankle injury.
The 25-year-old has missed Liverpool’s last five Premier League games, and has only featured once since the start of December, suffering from a recurring ankle problem.
This has been a big blow to Jurgen Klopp‘s first-team plans, but the German has instead turned to Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan as his centre-back pairing.
Matip is now on the road to recovery, and speaking this week, he said he was looking to return to training at Melwood “in a few days.”
“[It’s] getting better and in a few days I hope I’ll be back in full training,” he explained.
“That’s the plan but you never know how it will go. We are really positive and hope that this chapter is closed.
“It was my left ankle, a ligament was damaged. At the beginning it needed rest but after this I wanted to play too early.
“Three or four weeks before the West Ham game was the first time I really felt it and I still wanted to play a little bit too early. But now, I’m on a good way.”
The Reds next play Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round on Sunday afternoon, but this is likely to come too soon for Matip.
He could well return for Liverpool’s League Cup semi-final first-leg trip to Southampton on January 11, however, which would boost Klopp’s options significantly.
After that, Liverpool have another four games in January, including league clashes with Manchester United and Chelsea.
The potential to catch up with the latter in the title race was improved by their defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night, leaving the gap between first and second at five points.
Matip is yet to experience defeat in the league since joining Liverpool, with eight of his 12 appearances resulting in victory.
His impact on Klopp’s defence has played a big part in this, providing the back line with strength, speed, intelligence and a calming composure in possession.
Along with Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum, Matip has been one of Klopp’s best signings of the season so far, and his return to training is hugely positive as Liverpool look to continue their fine run of form into 2017.