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Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren will miss the Europa League last 32 first-leg against Augsburg after reportedly flying to Croatia due to a family illness. The 26-year-old missed training at the WWK Arena on Wednesday (18 February) and has been ruled out of the making a return from a hamstring injury.
The Liverpool Echo understands the nature of Lovren's absence is due to him returning to his homeland due to an illness in his family. There has been no official update from the Merseyside club regarding the centre-back but he is expected to be given an extended leave of absence with the team not in action against until the second leg against Augburg on 25 February.
Lovren missed the FA Cup loss to West Ham United and the Premier League thrashing of Aston Villa due to a hamstring complaint but was expected to be restored to the first team for the European double-header. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp must now decide whether to stick with Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho – who started the 6-0 win at Villa Park – or hand loanee Steven Caulker his first European appearance.
Klopp could even call on the fit again Lucas Leiva who has recovered from a minor hamstring problem, but the manager is otherwise without seven players including Adam Lallana, Kevin Stewart and Martin Skrtel. Joao Carlos Teixeira and Danny Ward have both travelled after being included in Liverpool's Europa League squad for the second half of the season, replacing long-term injury absentees Joe Gomez, Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan.
The fixture represents Klopp's first game back in Germany since leaving Borussia Dortmund at the end of the 2015-16 season and replacing Brendan Rodgers in October 2015. Despite Augsburg being 14th in the Bundesliga table and just six points off the relegation play-off position, Klopp will not underestimate a largely familiar opponent.
"A lot depends on their selection but they're a really good German team, compact, very physical," he said, according to the club's official website. "They're good, they know what they're doing, and they try to do it really well in the Europa League. It's not as if every single game we play we do so well and get the good results. Yes, in the Bundesliga, some results weren't so good, but everyone wants to get as far as they can in the Europa League and that's the aim of both teams.
"Liverpool have a really big history in England and Europe, you can't really compare it as such. If you go to Asia, South America, South Africa, Liverpool is known and with all respect to Augsburg they're maybe not as known. So, we're both independent clubs and you shouldn't actually look at it like that as a comparison."