Liverpool: Klopp says Reds will try to sign defender
Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool are being restricted from playing their “best season” in the Premier League this year because they have been so unfortunate with injuries. The Reds suffered more defensive problems in Thursday’s win over Tottenham and now have no senior fit centre-half available.
With Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez battling to play again this season, Fabinho has joined the duo on the sidelines with what has been described as a minor muscle injury and was not in the squad to face Spurs in north London.
Joel Matip lined up alongside Jordan Henderson in central defence but the Cameroonian was forced off at half-time with an ankle ligament injury and is awaiting the results of scans to determine the damage.
Neither Matip or Fabinho will be fit for Sunday’s Premier League clash with West Ham but Klopp will be desperate for the pair to return to fitness as soon as possible.
After facing in-form West Ham, Liverpool welcome Brighton to Anfield and then take on Manchester City, Leicester and Everton back-to-back in the league.
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In between clashes with Leicester and Everton the Premier League champions also begin their Champions League knockout campaign with the first leg of their last 16 tie against Bundesliga title contenders RB Leipzig.
If Liverpool were full strength, Henderson and Fabinho would both line up in midfield but if Matip’s regular problems persist, they could become Klopp’s go-to centre-back partnership between now and May.
And Klopp admits that will affect Liverpool’s ability to play to their maximum, despite having produced their best level once more to end a five-game winless run by beating Spurs.
“To play your best season you need to be lucky with injuries, and we are not lucky in these moments, I think we can all admit that,” the German said.
“But still everybody expects us to play our best season. That’s OK – but we only have to win football games, find a solution and win football games in any way, and make the season as special as possible, that’s what we try to do.”
Klopp admits playing his first-choice midfielders in defence, with Fabinho not having played in his usual defensive midfield role in the Premier League since the derby draw at Everton on October 17, is having a detrimental impact on the team’s overall balance.
“Football is all about individual skills of course – we have to bring them together and we have to make it work,” he continued.
“So it’s about the structure of the team, stability, reliability, knowing what the other boy is doing in this moment so you can react or prepare your reaction.
“It’s about leadership as well. On the pitch that means who leads the line? It’s not a secret that Virgil van Dijk leads our last line so, organisation-wise, who pushes up, move here, move there; all these kind of things.
“It just developed in that manner. Then it was the job for Joe for a while, who grew into the job good, then Joe was out and Joel played together with Fabinho.
“Both of those players are not the most vocal players on the pitch, let me say it like this, plus we miss our natural six. When we speak about structure and stability that changes the whole set-up.
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“Usually in football when one player has the ball all the others kind of know what will happen because they are used to it.
“That then cost us our fluidity. No look passes, for example, are pretty much no longer possible because you have no idea where the guy who didn’t play last week will go. That’s the situation, and I think we dealt quite well with that so far.”
England international Gomez has been out injured since rupturing his patellar tendon in Three Lions training in November and Klopp admits the 23-year-old could be fighting for full fitness by the end of the season.
The Liverpool manager insists he does not expect Gomez to play again this season, saying: “Joe is actually in a pretty good place, but far away from being back. So he walks round looks completely normal, is not yet out on the pitch running, just a really tough injury as well.
“Will he be available this season? When does the season end, May? It will be close at least I would say, but I don’t expect it.”
Klopp said of Gomez’s centre-back partner Van Dijk earlier in January: “I don’t know what is possible and what is not possible; I don’t think I’m the right person to judge that 100 per cent.
“He looks really good. I spoke to him this morning, I had him on the phone – he is in a really good mood. So it’s all very promising. But I don’t know when he will be back.
“There are for sure a lot of stages still to go over or pass or whatever. That’s clear. I had this injury myself. But for the time we are in and for how long he is out now, how long the rehabilitation is going on, he looks really, really promising. But that’s all.”
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