LIVERPOOL, England -- Jurgen Klopp has said Virgil van Dijk remains a doubt for Liverpool's trip to Chelsea on Saturday, but is confident he has adequate cover if the centre-half cannot play.
Van Dijk is yet to return to full training after aggravating bruised ribs during the recent win over Southampton.
Dejan Lovren returned from a pelvis injury to make his first appearance of the season in Wednesday's League Cup defeat to Chelsea, while Joel Matip has started Liverpool's last two matches.
"With Virgil we have to wait," Klopp said at a news conference on Friday. "He hasn't trained so far with the team, but I can't say any more about that.
"Virgil is a world-class player, there is no doubt about that, and if you miss a world-class player it is not cool.
"But Dejan Lovren made his first appearance after, I would say, around 10 weeks.
"Most of that time he was that injured he couldn't even think about training because when you have something in that part of your body you cannot do fitness, nothing. And after that long period, he played an outstanding game.
"Joel Matip, two games in a row, played fantastic. Both full-backs [Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne] didn't play in the season so far, so we all get judged constantly. But for the boys it's much more important what I think about their performance than what you think about their performance.
"I can imagine people say: 'Thank God all the others come back,' but these boys did a really good job.
"So, if Virgil is fit and can play then he will play, but if not then obviously we have options and that's really good. His impact is always obvious, but we could play football before Virgil van Dijk and we can play without Virgil, thank God.
"But I prefer that he is fit and available and I can make decisions, if he needs a rest or not in one of the other games. For the last game he was not available but now we will see for tomorrow."
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum, meanwhile, have returned to training and are in contention to feature at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.
Liverpool were knocked out of the League Cup at the third-round stage by Maurizio Sarri's men after a wonderful solo effort from second-half substitute Eden Hazard five minutes from time.
Chelsea assistant manager Gianfranco Zola said Hazard was one of the best players in the world in the aftermath of the match.
However, Klopp stressed that Liverpool can find ways to limit the influence of the Belgian star, who has continually been linked with a move to Real Madrid.
"Stopping passes to Hazard [is] a good idea, being close [is] also a good idea," Klopp said. "But he likes it when somebody's close, to be honest.
"We all know that we could have defended that goal that he scored. That's clear. We had three challenges. Yes, he did well. If we had one 100 hundred percent challenge in four or five, Eden Hazard can't do what he did. But that's how it is and that's not new.
"It's always clear we need one for the challenge, one for the protection, maybe two for the protection. Three times. And even then still not possible to score a goal, but he did because of a perfect finish.
"I can easily respect that, but no player is not defendable. That's all how it is, but they are difficult to defend. If you give Sadio Mane the ball in the wrong space then you cannot get him anymore as an opponent. It's not possible.
"We have those players as well so it's good. But we have to make sure we close the right spaces and if we have a challenge we should try to win it a bit more than we did in that situation."
After Saturday's game, Liverpool travel to Napoli for the second game of their Champions League campaign before welcoming Premier League champions Manchester City to Anfield on Oct. 7.
Liverpool's unbeaten start to the season was ended in midweek, and Klopp has dismissed the suggestion that exiting the League Cup allows his side to focus on other competitions.
"We do the job to play all the games somebody gives us. All competitions we are in, we want to win," he added. "I said before the game, the stadium will be full which means we have to be at 100 percent. That's what we tried to do.
"At the moment I don't see a lot of positive things when I think about losing a cup game, but I know the next two rounds would not be the biggest problem, match-wise.
"In January, when you go to the semis then it gets a bit more busy and that's not cool, but if you are that far then you want to go for it."