Joel Matip will definitely remain absent for Liverpool's final Champions League Group E contest against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday night (6 December), although Jurgen Klopp appears hopeful that he can return before the New Year.

Injury-prone centre-back Matip missed Saturday's 5-1 demolition of newly-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion having apparently "felt something muscle-wise" after playing 90 minutes of the midweek win at Stoke City.

It was later reported by The Mail, among others, that the Cameroon international was being bothered by a lingering thigh issue that also forced him to sit out the match against Southampton last month and that subsequent tests undertaken at Melwood had proved that the problem was bad enough to keep him sidelined for the hectic Christmas period.

And while such an injury will definitely rule him out against Spartak, Klopp seems optimistic that he could be back before the end of 2017.

"He has hurt his muscle," he said in an update released via Liverpool's official website. "I don't know how long exactly he'll be out, but he's definitely not playing Wednesday.

"A month? No, I don't think so. But as always, it's possible. We have to wait. But it's possible that it will be shorter. We will see."

With Ragnar Klavan only deemed fit enough for a spot on the bench after illness and Joe Gomez also feeling unwell, Klopp was forced to get creative with his defensive selection at Brighton, deploying midfielders Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum either side of Dejan Lovren in a three-man backline.

The manager was pleased with the performance of his makeshift defence, who conceded only once when Glenn Murray notched from the penalty spot after captain Jordan Henderson was harshly penalised for a push on Shane Duffy. Much-changed Liverpool produced another ruthless attacking display at the Amex Stadium, scoring twice in 79 first-half seconds before adding another three after the interval as Klopp's rotational policy continued to yield positive results.

The Reds now prepare for the visit of Spartak to Merseyside knowing that a point against the defending Russian champions would see them through to the the last 16 of Europe's elite club competition.

Klopp's side, who frittered away a three-goal half-time lead against Sevilla on matchday five, would cement top spot in the group with a win. A draw would also be enough if the second-place La Liga outfit are beaten by already-eliminated Maribor, while a defeat would see them also needing Sevilla to lose in order to progress.

It remains to be seen if Gomez will have recovered in time to face Spartak, while Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Bogdan remain long-term absentees. Adam Lallana is still said to be building his match fitness after a long stretch out with a thigh injury.

Joel Matip
Joel Matip will not play against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday Jan Kruger/Getty Images