Wataru Endo’s participation in the Asia Cup means Liverpool will be without him in the new Year.
The Japan international, signed from the Bundesliga in the summer, has been a consistent player for Jurgen Klopp’s side. However, he will be absent for an extended period to represent his country in the continental tournament.
This absence compounds Liverpool’s challenges, as they are already set to lose Mohamed Salah for the same period.
Japan’s tournament kicks off on January 14 against Vietnam. They are grouped with Indonesia and Iraq as well. Given their strong prospects, if Japan progresses to the final, Endo won’t be available for Liverpool until February 10.
In the same timeframe, Salah will not be available. He is set to join the Africa Cup of Nations, scheduled from January 13 to February 11. This competition, hosted in the Ivory Coast, offers Salah an opportunity to seek redemption for his nation’s recent championship loss.
Egypt is placed in Group B alongside Ghana, Cape Verde, and Mozambique. Their initial match is scheduled against Mozambique on January 14. Should Egypt progress to the finals, Salah’s international commitments would extend until February 11.
Similarly, Endo will be unavailable for the same fixtures, posing challenges for Liverpool in maintaining their season momentum.
Liverpool’s upcoming fixture is against Arsenal in the third round of the FA Cup on January 7, where both Salah and Endo are expected to feature.
However, following this, they are anticipated to depart. Liverpool’s next engagements include a clash with Fulham in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on January 9, and the return fixture on January 23.
Liverpool’s upcoming Premier League matches include a trip to Bournemouth on January 21, followed by a home game against Chelsea ten days later.
Subsequently, they will visit Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on February 4 and host Burnley on February 10. Endo and Salah are anticipated to make their comeback for the match against Brentford on February 17.
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s manager, is familiar with the absence of Salah during the AFCON, having witnessed the Egyptian’s departure during previous seasons. Fortunately, Klopp can rely on several attacking options, such as Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo.
As for Endo, he has participated in 21 matches across all competitions, being in the starting lineup 14 times.
Liverpool’s midfield remains strong with options like Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Ryan Gravenberch available. Additionally, young talents might also get opportunity to play.
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