Klopp hails 'exceptional' Rhys Williams ahead of potential first start

Jurgen Klopp hails ‘exceptional’ Rhys Williams as Liverpool teenager looks set for first senior start against West Ham after a raft of defensive injuries

  • Rhys Williams has been making a name for himself at Liverpool in recent weeks
  • A mounting injury crisis has meant the Reds needed to call upon the teenager 
  • Williams has now made two Champions League appearances in two victories 
  • Jurgen Klopp must now decide whether to start the youngster against West Ham 

Jurgen Klopp has hailed the ‘exceptional’ talents of young defender Rhys Williams, as he decides whether to hand the 19-year-old his first senior start this weekend against West Ham.

Williams has come into the Liverpool fold in recent weeks due to a mounting injury crisis, with Virgil van Dijk ruled out for the season and Joel Matip still on the sidelines.

Following the exit of Fabinho against Midtjylland due to a hamstring injury, Williams played 70 minutes on the European stage and now could be in line to go up against David Moyes’ Hammers.

Jurgen Klopp has hailed the ‘exceptional’ performances and progress of Rhys Williams

Speaking ahead of the match on Friday, Klopp said during his press conference: ‘I cannot say too much on his [Williams’] progress in last three years but I can say a lot in last few weeks or months. 

‘[He has been] pretty exceptional but already a good kid when he arrived.’

Klopp would not be pressed on who his defence would comprise of for Saturday’s 5.30pm kick-off, but instead spoke up the options available to him. 

Williams, 19, has stepped up for Liverpool in the midst of a mounting injury crisis

‘We still have Billy the kid [Koumetio] and Nate Phillips,’ he said.

‘Billy was not available for some reasons in last 10 or 12 days but he is now back, they are all with us and now we have to make decisions.’

When asked whether he enjoys and embraces the test of having to tactically switch up his side and find different ways of winning games, Klopp suggested there is a simple pleasure in identifying solutions.

The German said: ‘Maybe enjoying is not the right word but i realised long ago that life is a challenge, always how I understood life. 

‘If you overcame first incident then it is all about solutions, problems are only there to find solutions. I see the challenge and I see the opportunity, yes.’

Liverpool are still sweating on the fitness of star summer signing Thiago Alcantara

Liverpool are also waiting to learn whether one or both of Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara will pass late fitness tests in order to feature at Anfield.

Both players missed the midweek Champions League action, and star summer signing Thiago has been taking all safety precautions following a thunderous red card tackle put in on him by Richarlison in the Merseyside derby. 

‘They are both in a good way, that’s how it is with rehab,’ said a spirited Klopp. 

‘You saw the incident with Thiago, we’re not exactly sure as nothing was broken but it needs time to settle. nobody can tell us exactly how long. 

‘He’s desperate to make the next steps, if he will be ready for tomorrow we will see. Same for Naby.’

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