Jurgen Klopp admits Philippe Coutinho’s absence from Liverpool’s Champions League play-off first-leg clash with Hoffenheim is “a blow” to their chances.
The Reds claimed Coutinho missed the weekend’s Premier League opener at Watford with a back problem but the draw at Vicarage Road also came just days after he submitted a transfer request by email.
Liverpool do not want to sell the Brazilian, who is a target for Barcelona, and Klopp said “nothing has changed in the last few days” as they prepare to re-establish themselves in Europe’s top competition for the first time since 2014-15.
“Nothing has changed on one side or the other side,” he said from a press conference in Germany on Monday.
“He’s not available for us at the moment. That’s the main issue. He cannot play for Liverpool in this moment. Everyone can imagine this is a blow for us.
“We have to prepare for this game without him like we have to prepare for it without Adam Lallana, or Daniel Sturridge.
“I really understand people’s interest in this. But I can’t say that, in this moment, I am really thinking about it. I wasn’t in the car thinking about ‘what can I say if they ask about this’? I work with the players I have. I don’t think about the players I don’t have.
“I think I’ve said everything I can say about it.”
Sturridge has been out with a pre-season injury problem, as has Lallana (both hamstrings), and the pair will miss the match in Hoffenheim, but the former is close to a return, according to the German boss.
“Sturridge is in a good way. We talked this morning. Two more sessions and he could be available for the weekend,” Klopp added.