Klopp drops Thiago hint as Liverpool without six first-team stars at Southampton

Liverpool have Thiago Alcantara back and manager Jurgen Klopp says there is a chance he could start against Southampton on Monday night.

But the Reds will be without six first-team stars at St Mary’s Stadium for their intriguing encounter with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.

Asked whether the Spain midfielder, who returned after two months out injured for a 20-minute cameo in the draw with Newcastle last week could start, Klopp said: "Unfortunately, I haven't known him for long – only a few months now.

"But, I would like to answer the question, so the fact he could play 20 minutes [against Newcastle] was pretty special.

"He only had two sessions with the team, that's it.

"One of the sessions he was 'a joker' – so I'm not sure you can count that really.

"This game gave us an opportunity to introduce him because it was mainly about creating and that's obviously his best skill.

"We will see but there's a chance.”

He also added: "I like speaking about Thiago but the boys who have done the job so far have done exceptionally well, it's not like we can't survive if he doesn't start the next game.

"But it's very good that he's now fit and is in contention – I like that a lot."

However, while Thiago has returned, the Reds remain without long-term injury absentees Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

Joel Matip also misses out again with an adductor injury, while Diogo Jota, Naby Keita and Kostas Tsimikas are all also missing.

Klopp’s side can go three points clear at the top with victory on the south coast.

Over the weekend he witnessed Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Leicester all win to close the gap on his side – with the Red Devils level on points with the champions.

And the German is in no doubt that things will be much tighter between now and the end of term, having witnessed his side win the title at a canter in 2019-20.

“Yes, for sure,” he said. “Last season was very tough for us as well. It was not as though we thought, ‘Oh my god this is easy’.

“It was really tough and this year is tough again.

“I am not surprised it is that close. We have our situation and all the other clubs have their situation. Our season is so far so good. Not more, not less.

“We try to be ready for each game. Now Southampton will ask for different things. Then Aston Villa [in the FA Cup], then Man Utd.

“This season is a tough one for the supporters. If you are a neutral you will love it, I am pretty sure, because it will go to the wire probably.

“But it is tough for all of us – which is the reason why it is so close!”

Predicted Liverpool starting XI:Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Williams, Fabinho, Robertson; Jones, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

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