Georginio Wijnaldum has been included in Liverpool’s Club World Cup squad in spite of injury fears, but Dejan Lovren has had to admit defeat in his bid to be fit for the tournament.
Midfielder Wijnaldum appeared to suffer a hamstring injury in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Watford which, after Leicester’s draw, saw the Reds’ lead at the top extended to 10 points, but he was named among the 20-man party which flew out to Qatar on Sunday.
Defender Lovren, though, will not travel as a result of the hamstring problem he suffered during Tuesday night’s Champions League victory in Salzburg.
Liverpool enter the Club World Cup at the semi-final stage on Wednesday, with Mexican side Monterrey their opponents in Doha.
A statement on the club’s official website confirmed Lovren’s omission and Wijnaldum’s inclusion.
Resources are already stretched thinly, with a youth team set to play a Carabao Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa on Tuesday and Fabinho (ankle) and Joel Matip (knee) ruled out of games in the Middle East.
Eighteen-year-olds Curtis Jones and Neco Williams were included in the squad that travelled to Qatar on Sunday. They had initially been expected to fly out after the Villa game, the team for which will as a result be even more weakened than anticipated.
It was not a straightforward victory, unbeaten Liverpool’s 16th in 17 league matches this season, as Watford had three decent chances in the first half.
Troy Deeney, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ismaila Sarr all missed, with Alisson Becker producing two good saves early in the second half.
Defeat left Watford rooted to the foot of the table on nine points, six from safety, having managed just nine league goals in 17 games.
New manager Nigel Pearson took encouragement from his first match in charge, however.
“What we have to do, all of us as staff, is to work with the players to help them find the belief themselves, we can’t give them that,” he said.
“We hopefully help facilitate that and give them the framework to do that but ultimately players have to go out on the field and play and they played with a lot of conviction (at Anfield).
“It’s absolutely required for us to find a way of getting out of the situation we are in – and it is do-able. We are capable but we have to start making it happen.”