Jürgen Klopp has stressed that the depth Liverpool have at centre back will prevent putting any pressure on rushing Joël Matip back from injury. Matip is unlikely to play against Stoke City, but the manager is confident in the abilities of Ragnar Klavan who will continue his partnership with Dejan Lovren against Stoke City.
“We were never in doubt about him,” Klopp said about the £4.2 million defender signed from FC Augsburg in the summer. “That is how we always work. We always decide for the player, not against the other one.
“We saw the good moment Ragnar and Lucas Leiva were in. Joe Gomez is in a good way too. It was clear there is no reason for rushing Joël back even though everyone outside thought that without Matip we could not get anything. That was good and I said a few times before that timing is very important.
“A few weeks ago Ragnar was not struggling but he was not that player he is now because he still needed to adapt a little bit to all the circumstances. Now he is in a really good moment and we should use it.”
Klavan impressed in pre-season and started the first two league games of the campaign in Matip’s absence. His struggles in the 2-0 defeat to Burnley effectively relegated him to fourth choice centre back behind Lucas Leiva, but Klavan’s role wasn't to be a regular starter ahead of Klopp’s first choice pairing of Lovren and Matip.
The 31-year-old shared his frustrations early last month, presumably as Lucas has spent nearly his entire career at Liverpool as a defensive midfielder. Since coming on for Lovren at the interval in the 2-2 draw against West Ham United, the Estonia captain has been a source of calm and stability in defence.
Being comfortable alongside either Lovren or Matip should serve Liverpool well, and Klavan will have a role to play in the festive schedule with three games in a week. There are further challenges ahead, but Liverpool may have found two Bundesliga bargains in central defence.