Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip: I'm on a good way and I hope to return to training in the coming days

Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip: I'm on a good way and I hope to return to training in the coming days

Liverpool defender Joel Matip is confident he is closing in on a return from an ankle injury that has restricted him to featuring in just one of the Reds' last eight games in all competitions.

Charlie Malam

Joel Matip hopes he will be back in Liverpool training within the next few days after missing the Reds' last five games with an ankle injury.

The centre-back hasn't featured since the 2-2 draw with West Ham United at Anfield in the league on 11 December, in which he completed the full 90 minutes.

That run-out came having been out of contention for the two games prior with the same ankle issue, something that also kept Matip sidelined in pre-season, but the summer signing is confident that he is finally getting over the issue.

Matip, who recently escaped disciplinary action for his self-imposed exile from the Cameroon national team, told that his injury is "getting better" and that "in a few days I hope I'll be back in full training."

"That's the plan but you never know how it will go," acknowledged the 25-year-old, who insisted that he and the club's medical department are "really positive" about his situation and that "this chapter is closed."

Matip admits he returned too early from injury

The former Schalke defender explained that it was his "left ankle ligament" that "was damaged" and said that at first he "needed rest" and that wanting "to play too early" worsened the situation.

"Three or four weeks before the West Ham game was the first time I really felt it," admitted Matip, who said that he "still wanted to play a little bit too early" but vowed: "Now, I'm on a good way."

Matip's return comes at a perfect time, with a two-legged EFL Cup semi-final tie against Southampton sandwiched between a huge clash with rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford in the league awaiting in the coming weeks.

Yet the Reds' No.32 declared he is only concentrated on his return to full sharpness, rather than being back in the starting eleven.

"I want to be fit and get on my way and be back, but I don't have a target to be in the squad," said Matip, with Liverpool having conceded three in the past five games he has missed after leaking four in the one league clash he was absent for before West Ham.

He declared that he wants "to be fitter" and that, naturally, "the other things will come" once he is back at his peak fitness.

Liverpool's defence have been largely impressive in recent games, two of the three goals they have conceded coming in the form of penalties clumsily given away by Ragnar Klavan and Sadio Mane in the draw at Sunderland earlier this week.

Yet Matip, having slotted so seamlessly into Jürgen Klopp's side, will undoubtedly come in for Klavan - who helped keep clean sheets in wins over MiddlesbroughEverton and Manchester City - to partner Dejan Lovren at the heart of the back-line.

Matip isn't fit enough to feature in the Reds' FA Cup third round clash with League Two visitors Plymouth Argyle at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, but is expected to be back in contention for the trip to United the following weekend.