Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren facing battle to prove fitness ahead of Arsenal visit

Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren facing battle to prove fitness ahead of Arsenal visit

Defender Dejan Lovren is facing a fight to be fit for Liverpool's Premier League clash with Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday despite returning to full training on Thursday.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Dejan Lovren is facing a fight to make Liverpool's clash with Arsenal this Saturday despite returning to full training from a knee injury, though Daniel Sturridge was absent from training.

The Croatian centre-back has missed the Reds' last three games, with Liverpool losing twice and leaking five goals in two of those three, despite keeping a clean sheet in a win over Tottenham Hotspur.

A niggling knee problem has kept the 27-year-old out of action since the Anfield draw with Chelsea on January 31, also preventing him from taking part in the club's warm-weather training camp in La Manga, Spain.

The club recently resorted to sending Lovren to a specialist in Germany to uncover the root of his problems and he is now nearing a return, having taken part in training at Melwood on Thursday.

But he is unlikely to return to the starting line-up - despite Lucas Leiva having struggled in the 3-1 defeat to Leicester City on Monday - with only one more training session pencilled in before the Merseyside clash with Arsenal on Saturday evening.

That means Lovren faces a battle to prove his fitness to manager Jürgen Klopp, though he could at least return to the bench even if not at full fitness.

Klopp likely to be without first-choice centre-back partnership again

Liverpool are in desperate need of victory against the Gunners, with the loss at Leicester further threatening their push for Champions League qualification having been touted for a title charge back in autumn.

With recent statistics having shown Klopp has used 20 different centre-back partnerships since his appointment in October 2015, he will be keen for the return of Lovren.

The former Southampton defender's partnership with Joël Matip is his strongest duo, having lost just one of their 12 games together - fewer than any other centre-back pairing that has played over five games together has lost under Klopp's tutelage.

Captain Jordan Henderson and striker Sturridge - who hasn't started in the league since January 2 - are also still on the sidelines and will both miss out against Arsenal with a bruised foot and a virus respectively.

Sturridge is increasingly likely to part ways with Liverpool in the summer with Klopp recently declaring a decision on the striker's long-term future will be made at the end of the decision.

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