Joel Matip left out of Liverpool's travelling squad for Plymouth replay amidst FIFA wrangle

Joel Matip left out of Liverpool's travelling squad for Plymouth replay amidst FIFA wrangle

Liverpool have taken the decision to exclude Joel Matip from the squad to face Plymouth Argyle in their FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday night after it had been reported earlier in the week that the club could defy FIFA regulations to play him.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Liverpool have left Joel Matip out of the squad that has travelled to face Plymouth Argyle on Wednesday night, with the defender still stuck in the farcical situation of not knowing if he is able to play or not.

The Reds were reportedly ready to defy FIFA and play Matip, who is currently at odds with the Cameroon FA, but upon taking legal advice decided against taking the risk in their FA Cup third round replay at Home Park.

It is thought Liverpool could even have faced being kicked out of the FA Cup or a hefty fine, and though the club are infuriated by FIFA's lack of assistance, thought it better to leave Matip out.

The 25-year-old was not in the travelling party that flew to Exeter on Wednesday morning, remaining on Merseyside to continue training as the club hope to receive clearance for him to play against Swansea City in the Premier League on Saturday.

FIFA are expected to return with a decision on Friday as to whether Matip is allowed to play for Liverpool during the Arica Cup of Nations, having refused to represent Cameroon at the tournament.

Matip - who signed from Schalke in the summer - hasn't represented his country since September 2015 and believes he retired from international duty back then after what he cites as a bad experience with management staff.

But if world football's governing body ask their disciplinary committee to look into the matter, Liverpool could have to wait another 10 days to learn of the result.

Liverpool believe that the dispute is in their favour, hence their temptation to field him against Plymouth, but will instead hope for a positive ruling later this week.

It will be the second successive game Matip has missed after he withdrew late from the squad to face Manchester United at the weekend, while he has not played since December 11 altogerther due to an ankle injury.

Cameroon are reportedly adamant that Matip shouldn't be allowed to play for Liverpool while they are involved in AFCON in Gabon after turning down the request to play despite being named in their provisional 35-man squad.

However, Liverpool and the player himself are both confident they have made it obvious he wasn't available for selection and hope that any investigation would rule in their favour.

Klopp frustrated with lack of FIFA action over Matip case

On Wednesday, Klopp told reporters in his pre-Plymouth press conference: "I don’t want to blame anybody – that’s important – but I think our supporters, for sure, need to or deserve to know about the process we are in. In this moment, we are sure – not we only think, we are sure – we did nothing wrong. We are sure Joel Matip did nothing wrong."

The manager explained that Matip hasn't played for his country "since 2015" and was "not in the squad of Cameroon" and so "could not play for Cameroon" - adding: "But in this moment, we have no 100 per-cent guarantee that he could play for us."

He explained that in the "last few days" and "maybe more the weeks", it has been "getting more and more, really busy" and that "all departments" of the club "were involved" in attempting to resolve the situation.

Klopp continued: "The procedure is that I would consider to line him up tomorrow, but I don’t know if I can, that’s the thing. From the sports side, it would make absolute sense, [it’s a] perfect game for him and all that stuff, but I’m not sure if I can."

He revealed that FIFA told him they will "decide if they open a case about it or not" this Friday and if they do, Klopp said it would take "between seven and 10 days" before Liverpool are informed of the decision.

The Reds boss lamented the fact that Matip could be faced with missing as many as eight games, if Cameroon were to get to the AFCON final, "without doing anything wrong" if FIFA open a case and "everything is okay."

Klopp continued that it is "unbelievably hard" for him, because they "cannot do more" as they wait for a decision.

In Matip's absence, Liverpool have taken a youthful squad to Devon with the Reds expected to name a much-changed team from the weekend's draw at United.

Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are the most senior players in the squad, with Lucas Leiva also travelling after passing fitness tests after a knee injury ruled him out of contention last time out.

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