Former Premier League striker Darren Bent believes Joel Matip could face a fight to reassume his responsibilities in the Liverpool defence if Joe Gomez performs well in his absence.
Matip picked up an injury in the weekend win over Sheffield United, and while Bent has praised the Cameroonian’s performances, the ex-Spurs frontman thinks 22-year-old Gomez could place his starting role under threat if given the opportunity to impress.
Speaking to Football Insider, Bent told of his surprise that Gomez has not been able to become a regular for the Reds at this point, but believes the England international has what it takes to win back his starting role following his lengthy injury layoff last season.
He said: “I thought by now Gomez would have nailed that spot down and would be his to lose, but Matip’s not giving up that shirt without a fight.”
Asked whether Matip would step back in upon his return if Gomez performs well, Bent added: “I can’t see it. I like Joel Matip, I think he’s done really well, but Joe Gomez is an absolute powerhouse. Before he got injured, him and Van Dijk looked solid as a rock, there was no give whatsoever.
“With Matip out and Gomez playing, this could be the start of him nailing down that spot because he’s obviously that good.”
With Gomez having missed a large chunk of last season through injury, it is hard to tell at this point how Jurgen Klopp sees the current pecking order of his centre-backs.
Gomez had started there prior to his long-term layoff before mainly filling in at right-back in cameo appearances at the back end of last season.
However, given Klopp has largely stuck with the formula of Matip and Van Dijk as Liverpool embarked on a run of 16 consecutive Premier League wins (and counting), it seems the former Schalke man will have been the first choice partner for Van Dijk at the beginning of the season with everyone available.
Whether Gomez is given lengthy opportunity to change his manager’s mind remains to be seen, but in either case, it would demonstrate Liverpool’s strength in depth across a defence that few have experienced joy against in recent times.
Can Joe Gomez regain his starting spot?
Liverpool fans, what is your strongest centre-back pairing? Let us know in the comments below!
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