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Joel Matip: Liverpool defender could miss six more games

Liverpool could be without defender Joel Matip for a further six games because of confusion over availability.

Matip ‘refused to play’ for Cameroon after being named in the preliminary squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.

The 25-year-old, who has made 14 Reds appearances this season, last played for Cameroon in September 2015.

Fifa says that without his country’s permission, Matip cannot play for Liverpool until the end of Cameroon’s participation in the tournament.

Should Cameroon make it to the final on 5 February, Matip would not be available until Liverpool host Tottenham in the Premier League on 11 February.

The German-born player would therefore miss the FA Cup third-round replay against Plymouth followed by the league game against Swansea, the EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Southampton plus league games against Chelsea and Hull.

Liverpool had to withdraw Matip from their squad to face Manchester United on Sunday because they were unsure about his international clearance. He had missed the previous seven league games with an ankle injury.

World football’s governing body said that it referred Liverpool to article five of its rules. It states that “a player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed, not entitled to play for his club during the period for which he has been released, plus an additional period of five days”.

After the 1-1 draw with United, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “Our understanding is Joel is retired from international football and we, the club, did everything we had to do to make this clear but until now we could not get the response we need to be 100% sure that he can play.

“It’s pretty difficult and pretty frustrating, to be honest.”

Cameroon started their tournament with a 1-1 draw against Burkina Faso on Saturday.

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