Joel Matip: Liverpool defender returns to training ahead of Manchester United game

Watch Liverpool vs Manchester United live on Sky Sports Premier League this Sunday from 4pm with kick-off at 4.30pm; Joel Matip has missed last three games for Liverpool including draw at Newcastle and defeat to Southampton

Liverpool's Joel Matip leaves the pitch after picking up an injury
Image: Joel Matip picked up the injury in the 1-1 draw with West Brom at the end of December

Liverpool have been handed an injury boost with defender Joel Matip back in training ahead of their Premier League clash against Manchester United.

It is currently unconfirmed whether Matip will be fit to face leaders United - live on Sky Sports Premier League - with the champions posting a picture of Matip on their Twitter feed with the caption "Training time...".

However, it nonetheless provides a boost for Jurgen Klopp's side, who have been hampered by injuries, as they look to stop United going six points clear at the top of the table on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Cameroon international has missed Liverpool's last three games - a draw at Newcastle, defeat to Southampton and an FA Cup victory over Aston Villa - as they now look to get their title defence back on track.

Matip will likely line up alongside Fabinho at centre-back against United if he is deemed fit enough to start, although Klopp may still opt to begin the game with Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips or Jordan Henderson in that position.

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Senior centre-backs Virgil van Dijk (ACL) and Joe Gomez (tendon) are still both sidelined with long-term knee injuries.

Matip, who has made 10 appearances for Liverpool so far this season across all competitions, picked up his most recent injury in the 1-1 draw with West Brom at the end of December.

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"Joel told me he felt something in his abductor and that's obviously not too good," Klopp said at the time. "It was serious enough that he had to leave the pitch."

Kostas Tsimikas has also returned to training for Liverpool, who has not featured since picking up an injury in the Champions League draw with FC Midtjylland on December 9.

Carra: Shockwaves if Man Utd win at Anfield

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Jamie Carragher shows off the video he received from Gary Neville the following morning after Manchester United went to the top of the Premier League

Manchester United can send shockwaves around the Premier League with victory at Anfield so it is imperative Liverpool show why they are champions, says Jamie Carragher.

"I actually think it's a bigger game for Liverpool," Carragher said. "The onus is more on them.

"If United got a result there, that's when the belief would come that they could win the league. I still think people think United may fall away and Liverpool have still got that edge, but if they won at Anfield that would send shockwaves through the Premier League.

"It's a game where Liverpool need to show they are the champions, they are the better team, get the result and also a performance that puts Manchester United back where they are."

Souness: Liverpool will be nervous, but should edge it

Graeme Souness insists Liverpool will be nervous going into a game against Manchester United for the first time in years, but should edge it.

"When you're a top team, you only worry about yourselves," he said. "That's been the case at Liverpool the last few years, but this season is difficult. Liverpool are huffing and puffing, that is a fact, it's not me picking a dramatic statement out of the sky. They are not the same team, not finding the same consistency, but they sit second in the league.

"They will think that even with them not being at it, they are still second and very much in the fight. But if there's one game United want to win, or one game Liverpool want to win, this is the one. The rivalry is enormous and has always been there; they are two monstrous football clubs with monstrous successes behind them.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, PA 0:57
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says United's game with Liverpool this weekend will act as a reality check for his in-form side

"I think for the first time Liverpool will go into the game nervous. For the last two years it has been non-stop plaudits for them, and correctly so because the football has been magnificent. But that has not been there this season, consistently. That's why they've dropped points you wouldn't have imagined them to.

"When they are at their best they bully teams, especially high up the pitch. But I don't see that consistently this year.

"United are going there as a group of players feeling like they can get a result. If they do that, it adds to their momentum.

"If you'd have asked me at the start of the season if United would be facing Liverpool at this point of the season three points ahead, I would have said that isn't going to happen. But we're in the most unusual of unusual seasons that I can remember, but fair play to United, they've played with a dogged determination and crawled themselves right into the fight."

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