Matip determined to fight for his place

Liverpool star Joel Matip is determined to rise to the challenge of added competition.

Jurgen Klopp’s centre-back partnership of Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez has flourished this season with Dejan Lovren being the first-choice back-up.

That has seen Matip play just eight times this season, being used as an 89th-minute substitute on five occasions.

The 27-year-old has since been the subject of reports saying that he could look to move on soon.

But he said: “Sometimes there are always parts in the game when you are a player and you are not playing that much.

"Of course that is not what I wished but I have to work hard, learn from it.

"We have a high-quality squad but I think this is good for the team. No-one can rest because there is always pressure from someone in the rest of the squad."

On the odd quirk of Jurgen Klopp's 89th-minute substitutions, Matip added: "Most of the times it means something good because we are in front and we just need to make the result safe.

"No matter how long I play I will always do my best to ensure we keep the points."

Matip will likely be on the bench for tomorrow’s Merseyside derby, a fixture which holds a mix of emotions for the ex-Schalke star.

The defender has featured in just two of five matches against Everton since moving to Anfield in the summer of 2016.

He has finished on the winning side both times - a 3-1 victory in April 2017 and January's 2-1 FA Cup third-round triumph - but has still racked up more absences due to injury than appearances so far.

"It was not the best of feelings connecting with Everton but I hope there will be many derbies to follow," Matip said.

"It's a special week for the people in the town. The derby is always a big game for both clubs and we are looking forward to it.

"It starts in the week before. You already feel like it is a different game. You see people in the street and they are talking about this game.

"There is nothing more frustrating than to see the opponent from the other side win this game so it means a lot to really win."

 

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