Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp faces a dilemma over one of his defensive selections for tonight’s Champions League match against Genk.
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Speaking to the club’s official website liverpoolfc.com, he confirmed that right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold will miss the game in Belgium due to a virus, saying that he is hopeful the 21-year-old will recover quickly but would not do so in time for tonight’s kick-off.
The Reds will also be without the services of Joel Matip due to a knee problem, another defensive casualty, although Mohamed Salah has travelled with the squad after an ankle injury ruled him out of the weekend’s draw at Manchester United. [via liverpoolfc.com]
Alexander-Arnold’s illness leaves Klopp without a senior recognised right-back in the first team squad, with Nathaniel Clyne not expected back until January at the earliest after he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in pre-season, according to The Telegraph.
Ki-Jana Hoever, the teenage defender who played at right-back in the Carabao Cup win over MK Dons last month, is currently in Brazil with Netherlands’ FIFA Under-17 World Cup squad, as per onsoranje.nl.
Therefore, Klopp will need to ask one of his first team squad members to deputise at right-back to fill a gap for tonight’s match in Belgium.
Centre-back Joe Gomez is one of the likeliest candidates for the role, having played as a right-back 52 times in his career. He has started there just once this season, though, in the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea, when Sam Dean of The Telegraph felt that he struggled to handle the threat of Christian Pulisic.
Gomez started at right-back in two Champions League away ties last season, both of which Liverpool lost (2-1 at Paris Saint-Germain and 3-0 at Barcelona). [via TransferMarkt]
Fabinho regularly played in a right-back role at Monaco earlier in his career, but his last appearance in that position was way back in May 2017, and even that was in an end of season Ligue 1 clash against Lille. James Milner is another option, having filled in at right-back for a spell midway through last season.
While Alexander-Arnold’s absence will force Klopp to deploy someone outside of their comfort zone, at least he has a few options who could slot in at right-back for tonight.
If it is to be Gomez, that would most likely leave a gap at centre-back for Dejan Lovren to come back into the team alongside Virgil van Dijk given that Matip is ruled out.
Even if Liverpool manage to wrap up the points well in advance of the final whistle tonight, Klopp could still be nervously waiting for the game to finish with no further casualties given the sudden paucity of defensive options.
Liverpool fans, who do you want to see starting at right-back with Alexander-Arnold ruled out? Are you worried by the pile-up of defensive absences? Comment below with your views!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!