Liverpool are hoping to have centre-back Joel Matip fit and available for selection ahead of their top of the table clash with Manchester United on January 17, as he steps up his recovery from injury.
The 29-year-old suffered an adductor strain in the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on December 27, and had to be substituted on the hour mark.
His absence has been felt in recent matches, as Jurgen Klopp opted to play Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in defence, subsequently weakening his midfield in a 0-0 draw with Newcastle United, and a 1-0 defeat to Southampton.
But Liverpool are hoping to receive a major boost in the form of Matip returning from injury to face Man Utd, as The Athletic reports he is on schedule to make a timely recovery and slot into Klopp's backline.
Jurgen Klopp had discussed the length of the defender's absence after their draw with Newcastle, explaining: "The normal stuff with these kind of injuries, [he will be out for] around about three weeks."
That time frame would put him back in contention to start against Man Utd, and all signs are pointing to the former Cameroon international offering a helping hand at the heart of their weakened backline.
Long-term knee injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have left Klopp's centre-back options completely eradicated, and he has had to adjust his selections accordingly. The German clearly decided against throwing any youngsters like Rhys Williams or Nathaniel Phillips into the mix against Southampton, instead partnering Henderson alongside Fabinho.
The Reds lost the game 1-0, but Klopp will have been more concerned about the lost battle in midfield, and he'll be aware of the dangers Man Utd's central stars can pose to the current champions. The Red Devils could hypothetically open up a six-point gap over Liverpool with a win, should they beat Burnley on Tuesday evening.