Leeds vs Liverpool: How the Reds could line up following FIFA triple ban

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Every Premier League manager must have a certain amount of nerves every time they release a contingent of players to represent their countries during the various international breaks throughout the season.

Injuries and fatigue are two common issues that top-flight bosses have become used to dealing with when their stars return from duty with their national sides.

For Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, though, it’s not just the usual knocks and niggles that will deprive him of key first-team players for the Red’s visit to Leeds United on Sunday afternoon.

The Anfield side aren’t happy about it, but at time of writing, Klopp is set to be without Brazilian trio Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho. All three are currently unavailable for selection following a ban imposed by FIFA as they each travelled to South America to represent their country last week without permission to do so.

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As if that wasn’t enough, the 54-year-old German will also seemingly be unable to call on Naby Keita, after the Guinean midfielder was caught up in a military coup while on international duty in the country which delayed his return to Merseyside. 

Of course, Liverpool also have the typical injury concerns that accompany the end of any extended international break. Neco Williams withdrew from the Welsh squad because of injury – and Takumi Minamino did the same while with Japan.

With a considerable list of absentees, how are the Reds likely to line up at Elland Road against Marcelo Bielsa’s men this weekend. We’ve decided to take a look.

Goalkeeper: Caoimhin Kelleher

Seemingly now second in the pecking order between the sticks at Anfield, the 22-year-old Irishman will make only the third Premier League appearance of his career if he is picked ahead of Adrian to deputise for the absent Alisson.

Defence: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson

Klopp might consider himself fortunate to be in a position to name the same backline who started Liverpool’s last Premier League fixture at home to Chelsea on August 28.

Van Dijk appears to have shaken off an ankle knock that he picked up on international duty in midweek and both Alexander-Arnold and Robertson have also returned to Merseyside without any major fitness concerns.

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ENTER GIVEAWAY

Midfield: Thiago, Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones

Fabinho’s ban and Keita’s travel issues mean that Henderson is likely to take up the defensive midfield role, providing an opening for Thiago to make his first Premier League start of the season. The other midfield spot would likely have gone to Harvey Elliott. However, the talented youngster returned early from his time with the England Under-21 squad with a slight injury issue, meaning that Curtis Jones is preferred.

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane

Firmino’s enforced absence will almost certainly mean that Jota takes up the central role in the final third for Klopp – with Mane and Salah on either side.

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Despite a depleted squad, Klopp will still fancy his side’s chances of returning from Yorkshire with all three points, against a Leeds team that have yet to record a win this season. 

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