Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol has accused manager Jurgen Klopp of covering up the true extent of Roberto Firmino's ankle injury.
The Brazilian was absent during the Reds' 5-0 hammering of Huddersfield Town on Friday night following rumours online that he had been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to the damage he picked up in training the previous day. However, Klopp firmly denied such suggestions, indicating his frontman would be available to face Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek.
The German stated: "Roberto Firmino is not out for the rest of the season. It’s true yesterday [on Thursday], after training, he fell obviously a little bit, he went to the physiotherapist and they wanted to wait overnight.
"This morning he came and said he still feels it a little bit," the 51-year-old continued. "It’s kind of a small tear. We will see. It’s not too long a time. Like I said, it’s Bobby and he’s a machine. We will see. We will take no risk, of course."
Nicol was unconvinced by Klopp's testimony, though, suggesting that the coach did not want to worry Liverpool supporters with the concerning loss of one of their key players as they aim to deliver a Premier League and Champions League double. He said on ESPN FC: "That’s not good. He didn’t say, ‘A little fibre’ or ‘just a tear’, he said a tear.
"That puts a different spin on it completely for me. I don’t like the sound of that. Listen, when the press are talking to you as a coach, you really don’t want to tell them the truth."
Nicol then explained Klopp's reasoning: "You’re always trying to cover things a little bit. If he thought Bobby Firmino was going to play, he’d say, ‘He’s got a wee knock but he’ll be fine’.
"When you start going into detail and start using the word tear, that scares me. A tear, you can’t play. You can’t do it," he finished.