The Chalkboard: Joel Matip could be biggest loser from Joe Gomez’s return

According to Liverpool’s official website, Joe Gomez has returned to first-team training after spending more than three months on the sideline.

Naturally, the news has been greeted with delight amongst the Reds faithful and it’s a priceless boost for Jurgen Klopp at a crucial stage in the season, but it could be bad news for Joe Matip despite his excellent form of late.

On the chalkboard

Gomez’s lengthy injury setback paved the way for Matip to cement his place in the starting XI and that’s exactly what he’s done with aplomb.

A player once slandered as the footballing embodiment of Bambi on ice, the Cameroon international has been a revelation alongside Virgil Van Dijk, silencing his critics with a series of consistent displays.

That Liverpool have conceded just five goals from the last eight Premier League fixtures with Matip in the starting lineup speaks volumes about the scale of his improvement this season, and right now it seems unthinkable to suggest he should be dropped.

The returning 21-year-old, however, will shift the dynamic and give Klopp a selection headache in the coming weeks.

Matip to miss out

Gomez’s presence could see Matip cruelly miss out in season-defining encounters both domestically and in Europe, such was the excellence of the former’s performances prior to his lengthy lay-off.

Klopp is also blessed with the option of deploying Gomez at full-back when he requires added protection out wide and that could be a game-changer during the run in, but it’s fair to say that Liverpool are at their most formidable when Van Dijk and Gomez are partnered between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson.

Matip has unquestionably been a revelation this season and his improvement deserves glowing recognition, but the return of one of England’s most exciting prospects could force him back onto the substitutes bench.