LIVERPOOL: Liverpool are suffering as a result of the stand-off with Cameroon over central defender Joel Matip despite him having retired from international football, manager Jurgen Klopp said on Friday.
Klopp was not best pleased to have to pull Matip, who has not played for the Indomitable Lions since September 2015, from the starting line-up for the previous two matches including last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United because of confusion over the player’s international status.
Cameroon named him in their squad for the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations and world governing body FIFA have deployed their right to suspend him for not turning up for the tournament.
Klopp, whose side are seven points behind leaders Chelsea, says he has not been sble to plan properly for games — including Saturday’s home clash with strugglers Swansea City — as he has not known whether Matip would be available or not.
“I don’t have an update. FIFA mentioned to us Friday would be D-Day,” said Klopp at his Friday press conference about when FIFA would rule definitively on the matter.
“The Matip case is obviously, for us, special and we do not feel it is fair.
“We do what we can but we cannot change it and we cannot turn it in our direction because we want it.
“It is difficult in this position because with the fixtures we have at the moment we don’t have a lot of training time and you have to work with the team which could start in the next game.
“And when you’re not sure what to do with Joel he is not that involved.
“I had to put me outside this case a little bit because I need my full concentration about other things.
“It is another experience which you don’t need but we have to learn from it.”
Klopp was at pains to praise the Africa Cup of Nations itself even though it has also deprived him of Senegalese star Sadio Mane.
“It is not about the African Cup of Nations: I absolutely do not have a problem with the African Cup of Nations, it is the opposite,” said the 49-year-old German.
“I have respect for all what they are doing there in the most difficult circumstances still.
“It is a great tournament — in the middle of our season makes it not too cool but that is not my decision.”