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Wataru Endo into Asian Cup last 8 – could miss 2 more Liverpool games


Wataru Endo‘s journey in the Asian Cup continues, with his Japan side defeating Bahrain in the last 16 stage.

Liverpool will be made to wait a little longer to welcome back their No. 3, after he captained his country to a place in the quarter-final of the competition in Qatar.

Goals from Ritsu Doan and Takefusa Kubo either side of the break gave Japan a 2-0 cushion, but an own goal from goalkeeper Zion Suzuki gave Bahrain a lifeline with 25 minutes left.

Forward Ayase Ueda put the game beyond reasonable doubt just eight minutes later, meaning that Endo will lead his team into this weekend’s next round.

DOHA, QATAR - Wednesday, November 23, 2022: Japan players line-up for a team group photograph before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium. Back row L-R: goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, Hiroki Sakai, Ko Itakura, Ao Tanaka, Water Endo, Maya Yoshida. Front row L-R: Junya Ito, Takefusa Kubo, Daizen Maeda, Yuto Nagatomo, Daichi Kamada. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It means that the midfielder will now definitely miss the trip to Arsenal this weekend, but further absence is likely to follow.

Japan will take on either Iran or Syria in the last eight on Saturday, with the game scheduled to kick off at 11.30am (GMT).

As one of the pre-tournament favourites, Japan are likely to continue to progress deep into the competition and Endo may not return to Anfield for a number of weeks as a result.

Defeat against either Iran or Syria on Saturday could see the Japan captain return to his club in time to face Burnley next weekend.

Progression beyond next week’s semi-final, however, would mean he would miss the visit of the Clarets as the Asian Cup final kicks off at exactly the same time on February 10, 3pm (GMT).

Endo’s impact in Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield received widespread praise before he departed to the Middle East, and Liverpool fans will secretly be hoping to get the 30-year-old back to Anfield sooner rather than later.

If Japan were to reach the final, he would miss:
Arsenal vs. Liverpool – February 4
Liverpool vs. Burnley – February 10

Should his side go all the way in the tournament, his likely return would come in the early kick-off at Brentford on February 17.

Japan are the most decorated side in the competition having lifted the trophy four times, with their last victory coming in 2011 after a 1-0 extra-time victory over Australia in the final.