Over the last couple of seasons, Jürgen Klopp has routinely split the time at Liverpool’s right back position between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez. Once upon a time, the spot was Nathaniel Clyne’s to lose. The ex-Southampton defender was a mainstay in Liverpool’s backline until injury took him out of the spotlight two summer’s ago.
Now, with both Alexander-Arnold and Gomez out with injuries, and a busy holiday schedule afoot, Klopp is going to need more than James Milner to fill the void. But where has Nathaniel Clyne even been? And is he fit to play?
“It’s looks like it,” said Klopp at his pre-Manchester United press conference.
“Clyney was unfortunately injured in the last two or three weeks. Nothing serious but serious enough that he couldn’t be a part of training. So, luckily, since four days ago he’s been in full training.
“Is he ready for 90 minutes? I don’t know. But, is he ready? Yes.
Clyne has played something like six times for Liverpool in the last eighteen months. It’s been quite a blow for a player who looked well-suited to excel in Klopp’s team. But, at 27-years-old, Clyne still has time to make his mark in this new team. He’s been out for a long time but, if Clyne can stay fit, there’s a right back spot that needs a hero.
“Clyney is a very experienced player,” Klopp said. “Is it perfect? No. But is he experienced enough to do it? Yes, 100%.
“We have other options, as well, so we will not push Clyney after not having the longest spell of training, I would say.
“We still have young guns. Rafa Camacho played outstandingly well in the preseason. Curtis Jones has played against United.
“As long as we have options everything is fine. If we don’t have the ‘obvious’ option anymore than we need to be creative. But, all is fine for the moment.”
If Clyne is included against Manchester United it’ll likely be on the bench. And if things are going well maybe Klopp sends him on in the second half. It’s not going to suddenly click into place for the England right back but now is as good an opportunity as he’s had to build up some much-needed match fitness.