Liverpool look set to remain without Dejan Lovren for the Europa League last-32 decider against Augsburg on 25 February. A fresh hamstring problem caused the central defender to limp off after just 11 minutes of a four-goal draw with Sunderland earlier this month, but he was pencilled in to make his comeback during the first leg in Bavaria before being granted a leave of absence to fly to his native Croatia due to a family illness.
Lovren returned to first-team training at Melwood this week, although is now likely to miss out again having developed his own affliction. In his absence, Jurgen Klopp will continue to pair Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho at centre-back, with Martin Skrtel yet to return from a hamstring strain picked up at Watford before Christmas. He was initially expected to be available in mid-February, although subsequently suffered a setback during the final stages of his rehabilitation process.
Addressing those fitness concerns in a pre-match press conference, the manager was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo: "Dejan was one day in training now he is ill. [Joe] Allen and [Adam] Lallana are not available."
Allen also hurt his hamstring during the first half of that eventful meeting with Sunderland. Lallana is still out with a calf injury, while young midfielder Kevin Stewart, who signed a contract extension earlier this week, will be sidelined for the foreseeable future after damaging his ankle while blocking a shot during training.
The visit of Augsburg comes just three days before Liverpool are due to contest the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City. Few could blame the players for having one eye fixed on that eagerly anticipated Wembley showdown, yet Klopp insists they are fully focused on the task at hand.
"We take every game 100%. We have a final coming up, but that's not tomorrow. Tomorrow's game is exciting and important."
When asked if the fixture represented a chance to prove that starting berths were up for grabs ahead of the final, he replied: "Yes. We must show we want to win the game. Then we make decisions. We have to show that we are able be 100% concentrated on this game. Then we will have a really good chance in the final.
"We can lose tomorrow, because Augsburg are strong. I know you all don't think so but it's true. If you give all, you don't always get all but it's the only chance to get something. I hope it's not a test. I hope we show we want to win this game and then we concentrate on the next one."
Liverpool were held to a goalless draw against Augsburg in a tame first-leg affair at the WWK Arena last week, although the hosts could easily have edged ahead in the tie after Alexander Esswein drew an impressive save from Simon Mignolet on the stroke of half-time. Former Sunderland and Borussia Dortmund striker Ji Dong-Won also struck the post late on.