Liverpool received a major shock on Friday when it was revealed that centre back Mamadou Sakho had tested positive for a banned substance after Liverpool's Europa League match against Manchester United on March 17. With the club deciding immediately to remove the player from team selection until the investigation wraps up, questions were posed to manager Jürgen Klopp about who might fill the void left in the defensive line when Liverpool take on Villareal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final tie.
"We need to be prepared," Klopp explained. "It isn't about always having the best players but being perfectly prepared for our next game. Then we can go on. Martin Skrtel was not happy that he did not start [against Newcastle], but overall he's cool. He was never really injured when I got here. He could train, play, rest, but then he was injured. Came back, little injury. Back, little injury. Back, a little fit. If we need him he can play.
"We have other players so we can say ‘come on, a few days more'. We have Martin, Dejan Lovren, Kolo Touré, Lucas Leiva and Tiago Ilori so we have a few players who can play centre-half. We can make a decision. We cannot make a row, from number one to number five - if I tell number five he has to play, he might play like a number six."
Players on the fringe of the first team often speak about proving their worth in training in hopes that when an opportunity arises, the manager will choose them to step up in a key moment. Certainly there are concerns about any number of centre back pairings Klopp might choose from his remaining defenders (and quasi-defenders), but eventually he'll decide on one and those two players had better be prepared.