Joel Matip has been left out of Liverpool’s squad to face Plymouth on Wednesday night as Jurgen Klopp errs on the side of caution.
The German had reportedly pencilled in the FA Cup replay for Matip’s return but Liverpool’s legal team advised that Matip should continue not to be selected as long as Liverpool are in conflict with Cameroon.
Matip was named in Cameroon’s squad for the the African Nations Cup despite it being widely understood that he had retired from international football.
The Cameroon Football Association still had a right to call up the player under FIFA rules but, given he has not played for the national team since September 2015, the matter has taken Liverpool by surprise.
The club had assumed Cameroon had accepted Matip‘s decision to retire, taken before he joined them from Schalke last summer. However, with Matip having now technically not reported for duty, he could be suspended from club football for the duration of the tournament.
Liverpool have called for greater clarity from world governing body FIFA and Cameroon but so far have received no response.
Update on Joel Matip: Jurgen Klopp has chosen to leave him on Merseyside to train. Coutinho & Sturridge both in travelling party.
— Dominic King (@DominicKing_DM) January 18, 2017
Klopp said: “It is not about blaming anybody but it is not too easy to get in contact with the decisive people – the president of the Cameroon FA and Mr (Gianni) Infantino from FIFA.
“What we need is a letter, even when it is clear he is retired, from the official side saying the player is released and can play for Liverpool.”
Klopp could field Matip, recently recovered from a knee injury, at Plymouth but it would risk sanction from FIFA.
He said: “In this moment we have not a 100 per cent guarantee he could play for us. I think I could line him up and I don’t think the referee would say, ‘Stop,’ but I will do it when it is okay from our point of view.”
Asked what could make that happen, Klopp said: “New informations, if there are any.”
Klopp said he has been told FIFA will decide by Friday whether an investigation into Matip‘s non-compliance with a call-up is necessary. He resents any suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of the club or player.
He said: “We are sure we did nothing wrong. We are sure Joel Matip did nothing wrong.”
Klopp has included Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge in the travelling party as they look to avoid embarrassing cup exit.