Xherdan Shaqiri will not be joining his teammates in Serbia this week after being left out of the travelling squad for the game with Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday, and manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed why.
The Reds’ 21-man squad will leave later this morning for Serbia, with Naby Keita and Dejan Lovren included in the roster after recovering from injuries.
Jordan Henderson will remain at Melwood to continue working towards full fitness while Nathaniel Clyne also remains in Liverpool as he recovers from illness.
Klopp explained why Shaqiri will not be included in the pivotal Champions League Group C clash this week.
“It’s a situation where we will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football,” the manager told LiverpoolFC.com.
“We have heard and read the speculation and talk about what kind of reception Shaq would receive and although we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and be focused 100 per cent on football and not have to think about anything else, that’s all.
“We are Liverpool FC, a big club, a football team but we don’t have any message further than that. We have no political message, absolutely not. We want the focus to be on a great game of football, free from anything else.
“We are keen to be respectful and keen to avoid any distractions that would take focus away from a 90-minute-plus contest that is important for football and only football. So for that reason, Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday.
“I have heard so many wonderful things about the city of Belgrade, and the country of Serbia as a whole, from friends and colleagues who’ve visited before, so now I’m really looking forward to taking Liverpool there for a great game of Champions League football.”
Klopp also confirmed that Clyne and Henderson are unavailable, but that Lovren and Keita are in contention to play.
“We will take pretty much everyone. Clyney is ill and will not be involved, but Dejan and Naby are back in the travelling squad.
“Hendo was close, but not close enough. He needs two proper sessions for his fitness, which he will get at Melwood, with Shaqiri and hopefully Clyney if he is back from illness. They both should be fine for the weekend.”
The full travelling squad for Liverpool’s clash with Red Star Belgrade includes Fabinho, Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Lovren, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Mane, Salah, Gomez, Alisson, Sturridge, Moreno, Lallana, Mignolet, Robertson, Origi, Solanke, Matip, Kelleher, and Alexander-Arnold.