Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis is bad. So bad that Jürgen Klopp is expected to rest Lucas Leiva, a midfielder who covered centre half against Stoke, in order to ensure the veteran is available to fill in there against Arsenal mid-week. It’s so bad that fullback Jose Enrique, who hasn’t played in a year, is expected to start.
Not only is Enrique expected to start, but he’s expected to start at—you guessed it—centre half alongside Tiago Ilori, a 22-year-old who has spent the past two-and-a-half seasons bouncing around on loan and most recently spent six months at the defensive disaster that are relegation favourites Aston Villa without seeing a minute of action.
"Hopefully Jose will play," was Klopp’s response when asked about his rapidly dwindling defensive options for the Friday cup tie. "We don’t have too many centre-backs, so it is an idea. He played on Tuesday as a full back [with the reserves] so in this game we could need his experience."
Kevin Stewart, a 22-year-old who plays centre half and defensive midfielder, was also recalled from his loan with Swindon Town today and could be an option to play alongside Tiago Ilori. According to journalists with ties to the club, though, it is more likely he will play in midfield alongside Connor Brannagan.
Reports have them joined in the starting eleven by two other returning loanees, Ryan Kent and Sheyi Ojo, and youth players Conor Randall, Brad Smith, Joao Carlos Teixeira, and Jerome Sinclair. Not only will it be an experimental lineup, then—it will be an experimental lineup where half the players won’t have played together recently.
What the result will be is anybody’s guess, though few Liverpool fans will be expecting a great performance or overly upset if it leads to an early cup exit. But it will, at the very least, be interesting.