Jürgen Klopp’s defensive options have dwindled with the injuries to Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Joël Matip. Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren remain Liverpool’s only two senior centre backs in the squad with the fixtures piling up.
Nathaniel Clyne stepped up to fill in for Alexander-Arnold last weekend against Manchester United. Clyne’s performance was impressive, especially for a player who has been out of the first-team picture for so long. And Clyne will likely reprise that role against Wolverhampton today as Trent is still out but expected to be available next week.
The recovery time for Gomez and Matip stretches a bit longer into late January. Lovren and Van Dijk are more than capable of seeing Liverpool through the fixtures if fully fit. But, Klopp will have to get creative with his tactics and selections if either of his healthy centre backs go down.
Klopp suggested that he could tinker with the formation to make up for missing players and also that he could rely on Fabinho to anchor the defense if needs be.
“I hope Dejan can play them all but I don’t know in the moment,” said Klopp. “It looks really good.
“We don’t really have options. But Fabinho can play at centre-half as well so that’s good.
“Nat Phillips is injured as well, which is a real shame. We may have to think about other options like three at the back with two midfielders or stuff like that.
“It’s just the situation and the job to do. If we can keep them fit it’s very important, but who knows?”
Liverpool are not anticipating any January action but if the timelines for Gomez and Matip to return to training are wrong then Klopp may opt to bring a defender in. Publicly, though, that’s not a situation the manager is entertaining.
“I would say no but I don’t know exactly what will happen until the transfer window closes,” Klopp said.
“In the moment it looks that Joe and Joel will be back before the window closes so why should we do that?
“Could we get somebody just for January with the quality we need? I am not sure that is possible.”
Even so, that’s a lot of games for Lovren and Van Dijk to get through unscathed. Fabinho may be needed just to give one or the other a rest along the way. And while Klopp didn’t mention him as a back-up, James Milner is available for all your footballing needs.