Liverpool may still have ten days to go before they kick off their 2017-18 season against Watford, but manager Jürgen Klopp is already ruling out Nathaniel Clyne due to the fact last season’s first-choice right back has now missed the majority of pre-season through injury.
The Liverpool manager says he’s on track to be back in training before the start of the season, but that he will then need to go through his own equivalent of pre-season training in order to get up to speed for the season, and this is what will rule him out as an option for Watford.
“It’s pretty much impossible,” Klopp noted when asked if there was any chance that Clyne could play a role in the season opener on the 12th. “We have, in the moment, three options for this position: Trent Aleander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, and Jon Flanagan.”
The favourite is likely Alexander-Arnold, who has played well enough in pre-season that some have wondered if he might not have passed even a fit Clyne on merit. Given the 18-year-old’s inexperience, it’s likely Klopp would have stuck with a fully fit Nathaniel Clyne.
Still, Alexander-Arnold has shown great promise, enough that Clyne’s absence seems less troublesome than it might have last season, and the young academy product seems certain to see significant minutes with Liverpool returning to European competition.
Gomez has also impressed, though he appears behind Alexander-Arnold at the right back position and, if he remains at the club, will rely on his versatility to get minutes at multiple positions. Flanagan, despite what fans might wish and hope, has struggled in comparison to the other two.
“All of them played the position and now we have to bring them through the next one-and-a-half weeks and hopefully Clyney can come back after this,” Klopp added. “We have to make a decision.”