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Liverpool news: Jurgen Klopp names four surprise options at centre-back

Jurgen Klopp is not short of options in Virgil van Dijk’s absence (Picture: PA)

Jurgen Klopp is confident his squad can deal with the injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Joel Matip, saying he has a string of options at centre-back, some of which would have been hard to predict.

Van Dijk is unlikely to play again this season after a serious knee injury suffered in the Mersyside derby, while Matip and Fabinho are much less serious injuries and should be seen again in the coming weeks.

However, while the three are sidelined the only fit senior centre-back is Joe Gomez, leaving the champions a little threadbare in the middle of defence.

Klopp has numerous other options, though, and while they are much less experienced in that position at the top level, he is not short of choices.

A trio of young defenders – Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio – are available to him, while he would be comfortable asking a first team regular to play out of position at centre-back.

We could see the likes of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum or James Milner drop in from central midfield, similar to what Javier Mascherano did at Barcelona to great success.

Andrew Robertson could be asked to move across from left-back, with summer signing Kostas Tsimikas coming in at left-back.

More: Football

The German boss is comfortable with the choices he will have to make and is especially pleased to have Phillips, 23, at the club, who looked likely to leave in the summer, having spent part of last season impressing on loan at Stuttgart.

‘I know Nat [Phillips] the longest so I was really happy with this development. Since I know him he made big, big steps and is an exceptional character,’ said Klopp ahead of the Premier League clash with West Ham on Saturday.

‘I said it before that the little problem was that we were all convinced, how it looked all the time… there were a lot of clubs interested in him and in the end, maybe because of the coronavirus crisis, nobody had the money to do it but we expected him to leave the club, to be honest. Thank God he didn’t, but that’s the reason why he is not in the Champions League squad, the only reason.

;He cannot be on the bench in the Champions League but he is available for the Premier League like all three are and now I have to make a decision.

Nathaniel Phillips (second left) and Billy Koumetio (second right) have spent plenty of time training with the first team squad (Picture: Getty Images)

‘And we have still, obviously, other options like Hendo or Gini or James – or Robbo can play centre-half as well. They are all not smaller than Mascherano, for example, and he played pretty well in that position.

‘So yes, we have obviously still one or two options and one of them, we will choose. Which one, you have to switch on the television tomorrow night.’

Matip may even be fit to face the Hammers on Saturday as he pushes for a return from a minor muscle complaint.

The 29-year-old faces a late fitness test ahead of the 5.30pm kick-off at Anfield.

MORE: Kalidou Koulibaly leaves door open amid Liverpool, Man Utd and Man City transfer links

MORE: Jurgen Klopp provides injury updates on Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita ahead of Liverpool vs West Ham

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