Alexander-Arnold fitness boost for Liverpool as Keita also returns ahead of Wolves clash

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has revealed that he is set to welcome two players back into his ranks from the treatment room

Trent Alexander-Arnold is set to hand Liverpool a timely fitness boost ahead of their home date with Wolves, although Jurgen Klopp is yet to decide whether the right-back is ready to start a game.

The England international has formed part of a lengthy injury list at Anfield over recent weeks.

Alexander-Arnold has been sidelined since picking up a knock in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City on November 8.

Liverpool have taken in four outings since then, across Premier League and Champions League competition, and remain in the hunt for domestic and continental honours.

Their cause is now about to be aided by the return of Alexander-Arnold, who will be looking to take his starting berth back from Neco Williams.

Klopp remains wary of asking too much from a player who has been nursing a hamstring complaint, but he will come back into contention against Wolves alongside midfielder Naby Keita.

Quizzed at his pre-match conference on whether any of his walking wounded are ready to return, Reds boss Klopp said: “I don’t know yet, we will see.

“Trent and Naby will do the first steps in team training today [Friday]; whatever we can do with that depends on how it looks.

“There are some niggles after the game against Ajax and we have to see how they respond.

“So far, they didn’t do a lot apart from treatment and stuff like this. We have to see how that develops [but] I don’t know in the moment.

“There is a chance Naby and Trent can be in the squad, I would say.

“If they can play, I don’t know. If they are in the squad then they can play, but if they can start or play 90 minutes, I don’t know. I think there’s a chance they are in the squad, yes.

“Apart from Naby and Trent, nobody is coming back, no.”

Alisson, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, James Milner and Thiago Alcantara remain among those still stuck on the sidelines, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been another long-term absentee.

He has been missing since suffering a knee injury in pre-season, but the 27-year-old midfielder is edging his way back towards full fitness.

Klopp added on the England international: “Ox looks really promising, he is doing a lot of stuff.

“He is warming up with the team now, some ball work, a lot of stuff, but we will develop that now over the next few days.

“Then we will see from which moment on it makes sense to throw him in. He is not too far away.”

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Medical groups clash over insurance coverage of herbal medicine

By Lee Hyo-jin

A pilot program rolled out by the government to include several types of herbal medicine in treatments covered by national health insurance was welcomed by practitioners of traditional Korean medicine. It, however, immediately provoked backlash from Western medical doctors.

As the government has plans to expand the coverage for more herbal medicine in the future following the progress of the trial program, the mixed reactions of the two medical groups may deepen into another dispute.

Under the pilot program, which started on Nov. 20, patients at traditional Korean medicine clinics who are prescribed treatments for menstrual pain, facial paralysis, or the aftereffects of cerebrovascular diseases, pay only half of the fee for the herbal medicine, as the rest is covered by state insurance.

The three-year test run is aimed at reducing the financial burden of patients and establishing a verified system to ensure the safety and effectiveness of herbal medicine, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Around 8,700 clinics providing traditional Korean medicine treatments across the country ― approximately 62 percent of the total ― have agreed to participate in the program.

Why Western medical doctors oppose

The announcement was immediately met with strong backlash from the Korea Medical Association (KMA), the largest Western medical doctors’ group in the country with more than 130,000 members. The association strongly condemned the government’s decision through a press release, calling it a “nationwide clinical trial using unverified medicine.”

They argued that easing public access to traditional Korean medicine and related herbal therapy will pose a risk to people’s health as they claim the safety of the treatments have not been adequately verified and there is no scientific evidence for their efficacy.

The association also pointed out that the program may lead to poor quality of herbal medicine, due to a shortage of certified herbal medication dispensaries and lenient control over them. While most small traditional Korean medicine clinics have own dispensaries, some large ones have outside dispensaries make the medicine.

“There are only five outside herbal medication dispensaries in the country certified by the government. This means that those five facilities will be preparing all the herbal medicines for over 8,700 clinics during the pilot program period,” KMA member Kim Gyo-woong said at a press conference, Nov. 23.

“The mass production system may lead to failure in quality control and safety issues, and considering the current lax control over dispensaries, the system may lead to illicit manufacturing of drugs,” he added.

In addition, the KMA stressed that the health authorities should focus more on the unresolved issues surrounding the side effects of traditional medicine.

More than half of medical disputes reported in relation to traditional medicine treatments were about herbal medicine, followed by Chuna manual therapy, acupuncture, and skin care, the association said, citing recent data from the Korea Consumer Agency.

“The government must immediately retract the policy which only puts public safety at risk, and launch a full investigation on all herbal dispensaries and prohibit the operation

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Frank Lampard provides positive Kai Havertz fitness update ahead of Rennes clash

Frank Lampard is hopeful that Chelsea midfielder Kai Havertz will travel to France for their Champions League clash against Rennes on Tuesday.

Havertz has been out after he tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month prior to the home win against Rennes. 

He returned to individual training this week and has been building up his fitness following a short period on the sidelines. 

But Lampard is hoping to have the 21-year-old available for their trip to France and that he’s available to get some minutes.

“I hope he is available [for Rennes]. He’s been in for a few days now doing some individual work and he’s looked pretty good,” said Lampard. 

“Kai is a naturally fit boy so I hope to have him travelling with us to Rennes and maybe he’ll get some minutes. I’m not sure exactly how many because it was a two-week isolation but he looks in good shape.” 

On any further injury news ahead of Tuesday’s clash, Lampard added that he will closely monitor the rest of the squad before making any selection decisions.

“I’ll make a decision whether to make changes or not depending on how the recovery looks. We have people like Ben Chilwell, who has had a back problem, and players who played a lot of international minutes so we’ll have to see how they are.”


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Real Madrid | Zidane sweating on Benzema fitness for Inter Milan Champions League clash

The fixtures are piling up and Real Madrid face a pivotal trip to Milan to take on Antonio Conte’s Inter in the Champions League with question marks over the availability of Karim Benzema. Zinedine Zidane’s side were held to a 1-1 draw in the Cerámica by Villarreal on Saturday where Mariano Díaz provided the visitors’ sole strike, laying bare the issues facing Zidane when his compatriot is not available.

Benzema keeping Madrid afloat

Benzema has accounted for six of Madrid’s goals this season with Vinicius the only other forward with more than one to his name. Eden Hazard, Rodrygo and Mariano have one each while Sergio Ramos and Fede Valverde, both out injured, have three apiece. Luka Jovic is hardly Zidane’s go-to solution when he needs a replacement for Benzema and the Serbia striker is sidelined after a positive test for covid-19. Mariano has played 99 minutes this season, 85 of which came against Villarreal in the absence of any other options.

Benzema has been struggling with a muscle issue that forced his substitution in the 4-1 defeat at Valencia and it remains unclear if he will be available to Zidane for the trip to the San Siro. The Frenchman was out on the turf at Valdebebas on Sunday morning but faces a late fitness test for the Inter match.

Casemiro and Éder Militão are also doubts after testing positive for coronavirus and will undergo fresh tests on Monday while Ramos and Valverde will not feature in Milan. Jovic is definitely out for the Champions League clash and Zidane will have to find a solution to the lack of a cutting edge on display in Villarreal where Madrid managed a single shot on target from just six attempts.

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Man City star travels to London with squad ahead of Tottenham clash despite fitness concerns

Manchester City have been handed a boost ahead of their crunch clash against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham on Saturday afternoon, with reports claiming Sergio Aguero has travelled to the capital with the rest of the squad, despite obvious concerns over his fitness.

The Argentine has only recently return to full first-team training, after an injury sustained in the draw at West Ham last month, however looks to have been thrusted straight back into the first-team squad, such is the importance of the upcoming Premier League clash against high-flying Spurs.

(Photo via Man City)

According to journalist Lucas Scagliola, who appeared to have maintained an inside-track on the Argentine’s long-term injury over the summer, the 32-year-old was part of the travelling contingent that descended on the capital on Friday afternoon.

It is believed that the Argentina international only returned to first-team training over the international break, and after experience with rushing him back on previous occasions, it may come as a surprise to some that he could play some part in the weekend’s clash.

(Photo via Man City)

Pep Guardiola will be looking to make major strides in the top-flight title race after a relatively disappointing opening few months to the campaign. However, could the Catalan boss have that ‘new-contract bounce’ following his two-year extension at the club this week?


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‘Tomorrow is too soon’ – Neil Lennon gives fitness update on key Celtic player ahead of Hibs clash

Neil Lennon takes his Celtic team to Edinburgh tomorrow to face former club HIbs
Neil Lennon takes his Celtic team to Edinburgh tomorrow to face former club HIbs

Previewing the match against his former employers, Hoops boss Neil Lennon gave an update on the fitness of his players following the international break.

Lennon said: “We’ve no fresh injuries from the internationals which is great. We’re really pleased to have them back in good spirits.

“Jeremie Frimpong is fine; there’s no ligament damage, and he’s been back training for a few weeks now.

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“Kristoffer Ajer may not be fit for tomorrow but definitely this week, whether it be Sparta Prague or Ross County. He’s started training and feeling good but tomorrow’s too soon for him.”

Declaring the clash in the Capital an “important game”, Lennon added: “We’ve got a massive run of games now. It’s good to have a healthy squad, and introduce some players back.

“If we can pick up where we left off, I’ll be pleased.”

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Liverpool to assess Thiago & Fabinho fitness ahead of Leicester clash but Henderson out

Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that his midfield duo are “close” to a return – but his captain will be missing this weekend

Liverpool will assess the fitness of midfield duo Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho ahead of their Premier League clash with Leicester.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed on Friday that the pair were edging closer to a return to action, but that the Reds would be without captain Jordan Henderson for Sunday’s top-of-the-table fixture.

Thiago has not featured since the Merseyside derby with Everton on October 17, having suffered a knee injury in a challenge with Blues forward Richarlison, while Fabinho has been absent since picking up a knee injury in the win over Sheffield United a week later.

But both players were pictured at the newly-opened AXA Training Centre this week, and Klopp told his pre-match press conference that they would be looked at closely before a decision was made on their involvement against Leicester.

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Henderson, though, will join Trent Alexander-Arnold on the missing list having suffered a groin issue with England during the international break. 

Klopp told reporters: “Hendo will not be available, that’s clear. All the rest, we will see. 

“They are in a good way. They are all closer, but we will see if it’s close enough for the weekend.”

Klopp also discussed the injury suffered by Joe Gomez during training with England, which looks set to keep the 23-year-old out for a large part of the remainder of the campaign.

He said: “It was a tough one. The surgery was successful, and he is already recovering. He’s with his family, so he is in the best possible place, I would say.

“Rehab has started now. We help as much as we can. For the first few days after surgery you feel pretty alone, but if you have the family around, as is the case with Joe, then it’s all good, or as good as possible.”

Liverpool were, at least, boosted by the sight of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was back training outdoors as he steps up his recovery from the knee injury which has kept him out since August. 

The England international is unlikely to be considered for Sunday’s game, but could make his return to action next month, providing there are no complications.

“Ox is in a good way,” Klopp added. 

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Liverpool set for fitness boost ahead of Manchester City Premier League clash

Klopp: Playing Man City one of the ‘most difficult games in the world’



Liverpool are set to welcome back a key influence for Sunday’s trip to Manchester City.

The Reds go to the Etihad Stadium looking to return to the top of the Premier League ahead of the forthcoming international break, and knowing that a win would see them strike a huge blow in the title race.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have lost on each of their last three trips to the Etihad in the league, although last season’s 4-0 defeat did come in the days after they had been celebrating winning the title for the first time in 30 years.

One of the key developments since that title win has of course been the serious knee injury sustained by star defender Virgil van Dijk, but Klopp seems set to welcome back Joel Matip for the visit to Pep Guardiola’s side.

a man wearing a uniform: Klopp saw his side beat Atalanta in the Champions League in midweek

Klopp saw his side beat Atalanta in the Champions League in midweek

Liverpool’s last three matches have each seen a different player start alongside Joe Gomez in the centre of their defence, with Fabinho starting the Champions League clash against FC Midtjylland before going off injured.

The Brazilian was then replaced by Nat Phillips for last Saturday’s Premier League win over West Ham, and then with Phillips not registered for the Champions League it was teenager Rhys Williams who came in for the midweek trip to Atalanta.

Now though, it appears that Matip will return to the side to partner Gomez and make his first appearance since last month’s Merseyside derby.

Joel Matip wearing a uniform and holding a football ball: Matip has been back in training with the Reds

© Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Matip has been back in training with the Reds

He started that game with Gomez coming on for the injured Van Dijk, but incredibly this clash at the Etihad seems likely to be the first time that Matip and Gomez start together in the heart of the Liverpool defence.

Klopp faces a dilemma over who to select in attack, with the in-form Diogo Jota and mainstay Roberto Firmino both hoping to start alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

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Rodriguez gives Everton fitness boost ahead of Man United clash

(Reuters) – Everton midfielder James Rodriguez will return to the squad for Saturday’s Premier League home game against Manchester United having missed their defeat by Newcastle United last weekend through injury, manager Carlo Ancelotti said.

James Rodriguez playing a game of football: Premier League - Everton v Liverpool

Premier League – Everton v Liverpool

Rodriguez, who joined Everton from Real Madrid in the close season for a reported 20 million pounds ($26.29 million), has made a bright start to life at Goodison Park, contributing three goals and three assists in six league games this season.

“He is going to play tomorrow and I hope he can do his best, Ancelotti told a news conference on Friday.

“I don’t know if he’s 100% (fit), but we need him. Physically he is OK, he has recovered from the little problem he had.

“If there was a doubt, he wouldn’t play. There is no risk for another injury.”

Ancelotti added that captain Seamus Coleman (hamstring) and centre back Mason Holgate (toe) were available, while Lucas Digne returns from his one-match suspension.

Fabian Delph is out with a minor knock, while Brazilian Richarlison remains sidelined as he serves the final game of his three-match suspension.

Everton are looking to return to winning ways after successive defeats by Southampton and Newcastle but Ancelotti expects a tough test against Manchester United, who finished third last season.

United are 15th in the standings after a dismal start to the new campaign but have picked up six of their seven points away from home.

“It is a great opportunity to forget these two defeats and to stay at the top (end) of the table,” he said. “It is true they (United) have been up and down but some games they played really well. We have to expect a team with strong motivation.”

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(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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Bloemfontein Celtic goalkeeper Mabokgwane in fitness race ahead Orlando Pirates clash

Bloemfontein Celtic coach John Maduka is fretting over the fitness of goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane and midfielder Lantshene Phalane, ahead of meeting Orlando Pirates in Wednesday’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) match at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium.

Mabokgwane might not face his former club after lasting 66 minutes in Sunday’s 1-1 MTN8 semi-final, first leg draw away at SuperSport United on Sunday.

It was a double injury blow after Phalane played just 28 minutes of the match and before being taken off complaining of pain on his groin.

“I have not met the medical team yet and I am not sure of [Phalane’s] situation. I just heard that Jackson has been taken to hospital but Phalane is still with the team‚” said Maduka as per Sowetan Live.

“I have not gotten the [medical] reports yet to see how bad the injuries are. Yeah we will first check you know if there might be some few knocks here and there.

“It is very important for us to introduce the fresh legs. We have been playing every three days‚ so it is very important to go to the game against Pirates also refreshed a little bit.

“There might be some changes‚ one or two or three so that the team can be able to compete on Wednesday [against Pirates].”

Given Mashinkinya came on for Phalane on Sunday and could step in again if the midfielder fails to recover in time for the Pirates match.

A 1-1 draw against Golden Arrows and a 1-0 defeat by Swallows FC characterise Celtic’s PSL campaign so far.

Celtic host the Buccaneers who arrive in Bloemfontein on a high after convincingly beating Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in the MTN8 semi-final, first leg match on Saturday.

Pirates are expecting forward Frank Mhango to be back after the Malawi forward missed the Chiefs match due to injury.

They will be without coach Josef Zinnbauer who has been granted leave to travel back to Germany to attend to his hospitalised son.

The Soweto giants are yet to win a league match after drawing their two matches games against AmaZulu and Stellenbosch on 1-1 scorelines.

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