Joe Gomez joined Liverpool as a promising, but raw, 18-year-old in 2015. Since then he has shown flashes of the player the Reds hoped he would become, but injuries have limited his playing time and development. Now 24, the centre-back finds himself fourth in the pecking order at his position with minutes hard to come by.
Injuries have again limited his chances this season, and a very talented group of central defenders who are playing well when called upon makes it difficult for the Englishman to crack the lineup even when healthy.
Manager Jürgen Klopp spoke about the difficulties Gomez has had during his press conference today in the lead-up to an FA Cup showdown with Nottingham Forest on Sunday, a match many believe will feature Joe Gomez in the starting lineup. The boss made it clear that the defender’s lack of minutes is the unfortunate result of his situation and not an indictment on the player.
“He’s been good. Joe is an outstanding centre-half and an even better boy,” Klopp told the assembled press. “So he is good but, of course, it is not the situation he wished for.
“You have a really long time injured and then you come back and think ‘I’m ready, let’s go’ and then you have the problem - not a problem but the situation - of the three other centre-halves who could start earlier and gain rhythm game after game.”
Gomez also missed out on a potential opportunity for minutes when a false positive on a COVID-19 test held him out of the squad earlier in the competition.
“And he was a bit unlucky in the FA Cup when he was not [COVID-19] positive, but it was a false positive so he couldn’t play and was unlucky on top of that.”
While it’s been a tough road for Joe this year, Klopp stressed that he has every bit of faith in the 24-year-old’s ability, and hinted that we may see him in the lineup on Sunday.
“He is a top-class player and not an inch worse than all the other three who are playing, but the other three have rhythm because they have played more often. That’s the problem we have, but for a club with aims and ambitions we have, it can happen. It will not last forever but so far it has happened like this. And the next game would be a good opportunity for him - that’s true.”