Unlike his teammate and rehabilitation buddy Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez hasn’t really had the opportunity to kick on for Liverpool FC this season following his return from injury. Jöel Matip and Ibrahima Konate have been ahead of him in the centre-back pecking order. And since Leicester last came to town on December 22, he has only played 15 minutes. Part of that has been just luck - Joe has had a snakebit season. Every time there’s been a fixture that seems pencilled in for him to play, like consequence-free Champions League group stage or domestic cup games, he’s been ruled by niggling injury... or in the case of Cardiff, COVID-19. Manager Jürgen Klopp recognised the unfortunate situation and believes Joe’s time is coming:
“It’s really unlucky for Joey, absolutely. When Joey played for us, he consistently played at an incredibly high level – one of the best centre-halves in England, for sure. But then the big injury came and little injuries came on top of that, Covid came now at a very bad time – definitely would’ve played against Cardiff.”
“That would have helped to gain some rhythm, to gain some momentum but he couldn’t play because of Covid. It’s tough. The only thing I can say is there are tougher things than being a squad player in the moment for Liverpool.”
“There are much harder things out there in the world and the only answer in football is you have to fight through these moments and you are ready for when the situation changes. Too often we had only one centre-half or none available, so we couldn’t have reacted differently. But the quality of the boys, and especially Joe – obviously not played enough football in the last few months – is incredible.”
“Having him in training shows just what a high-quality squad we have at the moment. If someone like Joe plays only 15 minutes since Leicester, it says everything about it. Not nice for the players, I understand everything about it but Joe makes it really professional and still knows he’s a young lad and will be fine in the future. In the moment, it is, for sure, harder.”
Obviously, Joe not playing much isn’t ideal, but Liverpool could do worse than their starting centre-back for their title-winning season on the bench. It’s a testament to the depth in the squad at the moment, and as long as Joe is ready to go when the time comes, we’ll be okay.