Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Fabinho will miss Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Leicester, meaning one or both of Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak could start for the first time this weekend.
Injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip left Liverpool desperately short of defensive options at the midway stage of the campaign and the champions brought in Preston’s Davies and Schalke’s Kabak on permanent and temporary deals respectively on transfer deadline day.
Both Jordan Henderson and Fabinho have dropped back from midfield to fill in amid Liverpool’s crisis at the back this season but the latter has himself struggled with injuries in recent weeks, missing Liverpool’s matches with Tottenham, West Ham and Brighton.
The Brazilian returned to play the full 90 minutes of the Reds’ 4-1 thumping at home to Manchester City last weekend but has had another setback and will be absent at the King Power Stadium on Saturday due to a ‘little muscle issue’.
Asked whether Liverpool’s two January arrivals could be thrown in at the deep end versus Leicester star Jamie Vardy, Klopp said: ‘Jamie is obviously a proper challenge in this league with the way he plays, the way he gets set up by his mates and so that’s a proper job to do.
‘But you only can do it always with the whole team. That’s how we always try do it, you have to avoid the passes to him.
‘Jamie is a world-class player, for sure, in a specific area of the pitch and with his speed, that’s really tricky.
‘With the boys we have some sessions together where we really could work on this defensive set-up and that’s very important but we have, as well on top of that, other players available. Nat Phillips did really well together with Hendo, together with Fab.
‘Fab will not be available. He is suffering again with a little muscle issue so will be out for this game so we have to find a solution.
‘All of them had the chance in training this week to show who is ready and so I have to make a decision tomorrow.’
Asked whether Fabinho could return against Leipzig or Everton, Klopp replied: ‘I don’t know at the moment, we will see. I really don’t know.’
The Liverpool head coach has been without Naby Keita (hamstring) and Diogo Jota (knee) since mid-December but the duo appear to be making significant strides in recovery.
Pressed for an update on Keita’s fitness, Klopp replied: ‘It was a hamstring, slightly bigger one, so he is back on the pitch but not with the team yet.
‘So he is in individual sessions, hard training sessions, so it’s the final stages of his rehab but we are still not there.’
On Jota’s progress, the German explained: ‘Diogo is close but not as close as Naby for example.
‘But he’s on the pitch as well, individual sessions, not the same intensity so you can imagine after a longer time in rehab, you have to train really intense before you can go back to team training.
‘So Diogo… two or three weeks, maybe. But probably the medical department hits me now but I think that’s kind of possible, back in full training and then we will see how long in takes.’
Alisson produced a horror show performance as City ran riot at Anfield and Klopp revealed he had a ‘little talk’ with the Liverpool goalkeeper to help brush off the disappointment of his costly mistakes.
‘Oh we had, of course, a little talk,’ Klopp said.
‘If it’s then about encouragement or whatever, I don’t know. It’s just a little talk and he was not happy that it happened, of course.
‘But it’s very important to realise in a moment like this, goalkeepers in a long career, they make mistakes.
‘For a goalkeeper of the quality of Alisson Becker, it’s pretty rare that he makes this kind of mistake and that he makes two of them in one game, that’s clear as well.
‘But on top of that, goalkeepers are used to making mistakes. It means they have to stay in the game, they concede a goal and they know maybe earlier than all the rest of the world, “I should have saved it!”
‘They have to deal with that always and he has just a few days in between the City game and this game.
‘There was absolutely no real criticism from our side, from the boys, from the players around him because everybody knows how good he is. He’s a very calm person.
‘And now the next game is coming up and that’s good so he can play his normal level again and then everything will be fine.’
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