Jurgen Klopp has provided a positive update on Liverpool's recent injury crisis ahead of their meeting with Arsenal on 13 January, with up to four players set to make their returns. The club travelled to St James Park for an FA Cup tie at Exeter last week with all four of their recognised senior central defenders absent, resulting in a very unconvincing partnership between Jose Enrique and Tiago Llori.
The former had not made any appearances this season prior to that third-round clash and is usually deployed at left-back. Meanwhile, Llori was making his debut shortly after being recalled from a woeful loan spell at Aston Villa during which he failed to play a single minute under two different managers for the relegation candidates.
Such a pairing was far from ideal for Liverpool as a youthful side rescued a replay against their League Two opponents courtesy of a late equaliser from Brad Smith. Thankfully for Klopp, however, both Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho are in line to return for the visit of the Premier League leaders to Anfield.
"I think Kolo will be available," the manager said in his pre-match press conference. "Mamadou wants to be available and hopefully we can use him. We will see."
Sakho had been suffering from a minor knee injury that forced him off during the latter stages of the defeat at West Ham United earlier this month, while fears that Toure had joined Liverpool's astonishing list of hamstring victims were later allayed as he was revealed to have been suffering from cramp during the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Stoke.
The Ivorian played most of that 1-0 win alongside midfielder Lucas at the heart of defence after Dejan Lovren followed Philippe Coutinho in limping off before half-time with his own hamstring problem. The Croatian's injury was not thought to be as serious as his teammate's and Klopp revealed that he is already thinking about a return.
"Dejan feels good but it's only six days. There will be a moment when we have to decide if it's a risk we can try. We have Kolo, Mama and Lucas – so [we have] three senior centre-backs [fit]."
Although Martin Skrtel is still a few weeks away from returning, Jordon Ibe is expected to return after missing the trip to Exeter. Captain Jordan Henderson is also likely to feature for the first time since 30 December after recovering from a heel problem.
"For Jordon Ibe, Hendo and Mama, we have good news," Klopp added, according to the Liverpool Echo. "James Milner was okay but we left him home in Exeter. He is still in training, so that's all good news."
Daniel Sturridge remains out for Liverpool, however, as do Coutinho, Divock Origi, Jordan Rossiter, Danny Ings and Joe Gomez. Injury-plagued defender Jon Flanagan recently completed 45 minutes for the U21s after 19 months out with knee trouble, although it is unclear at this stage when he might be considered for senior football.