(Reuters) – Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez is set to return from injury in Wednesday’s Champions League clash at Ajax Amsterdam but midfielder Thiago Alcantara remains sidelined, manager Juergen Klopp said on the eve of the match.
Nunez missed the 1-0 Premier League defeat by Nottingham Forest at the weekend due to a hamstring niggle while Thiago was a late withdrawal due to an ear infection.
“Darwin is good. He trained normally yesterday and today. In this moment he is available … Thiago is still out,” Klopp told reporters, adding that defender Ibrahima Konate could be in contention after recovering from injury.
“Yes, he (Konate) is here. Ready to play minutes, I would say. He could play the first minutes but that would not make too much sense, so minutes yes. That’s it. Nothing new yet.”
Liverpool, who beat Ajax 2-1 in the reverse fixture, need a point to clinch a place in the last 16 in what would be a fine turnaround following a heavy loss to Napoli at the start of the campaign.
Klopp’s second-placed side have nine points from four games, six points more than Ajax. Napoli, who are already through to the knockout stage, lead the group with 12 points.
“We played a good home game against Ajax. That’s a bit like our season – we play really good then the opponent scores with their first chance,” added Klopp.
“It would be great (to qualify early) but I can’t sit here and tell you how I feel because we haven’t done it. After our start in the group stage, it wasn’t that people thought it likely to happen. But now it can happen, and we have to close the group.”
Liverpool, runners-up in the Champions League and Premier League last season, have looked far from their best this term and Klopp said that injuries had hampered their progress.
“You need consistency in the lineup and we haven’t had that. When you have (injuries), players who should be rested have to play and players come back from injuries too early. That’s tricky. That situation isn’t sorted overnight,” he added.
Liverpool are eighth in the Premier League after 11 games, 12 points off leaders Arsenal.
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)