The outcome of the battle to start the 2016/17 season as Liverpool’s No.1 has been decided by default.
Recent acquisition Loris Karius, who had kept four consecutive clean sheets immediately following his £4.7million arrival from Mainz, has been diagnosed with a broken bone in his right hand.
The injury requires surgery and the 23-year-old has consequently flown home from the club’s tour of America, leaving the path clear for Simon Mignolet to retain his place between the sticks in the process.
The setback was inadvertently sustained when Karius hit team-mate Dejan Lovren whilst attempting to punch clear the ball during Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in California.
Mignolet is yet to be involved in pre-season action for the Reds after his participation at Euro 2016 with Belgium facilitated a late return to training.
Despite a number of notable errors and a brief period confined to the bench under Brendan Rodgers, the former Sunderland shot-stopper has largely been unchallenged for a starting berth during his three seasons at Anfield.
Discussing the situation from the club’s training camp Stateside, current Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp revealed he was yet to make a decision on who would be between the sticks for the Premier League opener at Arsenal on August 14
“Everyone knows about the quality of Simon Mignolet,” commented the German in quotes published by the Liverpool ECHO. “He’s made a really good impression in the first few days back in training…
“A broken bone in the hand for a goalkeeper isn’t great. It’s not the worst but it could have been even worse. Six, eight, 10 weeks out, whatever, is not the longest period but it`s not too good either.
“It’s not that I’d decided who was No 1. It was just about collecting information about the two players.
“It was a battle between him and Simon and now that battle is decided for the next few weeks 100%.
“I’m of course really happy we have Simon and hopefully he will stay in the race and not get injured. We will need to give the other two match time now too.”
The injury is a big blow for Karius who had rejected the chance to represent Germany at the Olympics in order to boost his claims to start against the Gunners.