Jurgen Klopp has provided an injury update ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Crystal Palace, with mixed fortunes at the back giving Joe Gomez another chance.
Gomez started alongside Virgil van Dijk in Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing of West Ham, and produced an excellent display in a rare Premier League outing at centre-back.
After spending the majority of last season alternating with Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, this could be the campaign that the 21-year-old breaks through in his favoured role.
This is aided by the continued absence of Dejan Lovren, with the Croatian still sidelined for Monday night’s clash at Selhurst Park with stomach issues.
Ragnar Klavan is closing in on a £2 million move to Cagliari, and Klopp also ruled the 32-year-old out due to ‘injury’ as he ran the rule over his squad at Melwood on Friday.
However, the manager did reveal that Joel Matip is likely to return for the start of next week, and should take his place on the substitutes’ bench as cover for Gomez, who received high praise.
“We were never in doubt about Joe in his ability to play centre-half, but he needed time,” Klopp told reporters.
“Full-back is a very important position, but you still have most of the time at least one centre-half [behind you], which helps in defensive moments.
“Now he’s fit, which is very good. A very good football player, together with Virgil.
“They have a very good understanding on a personal level as well—that’s really cool.
“But we have the others as well. Joel is close to being back, hopefully to be in the squad on Monday.
“Then we have him, Dejan [though he is] still injured, Nat Phillips and, if we need, Fabinho can play in the position as well.
“That’s good. We have enough players, now we have to see who fits which opponent best, then make the lineup.
“I knew before that [Gomez] can play the position really well.”
This is a strong indication that Gomez will keep his place at the heart of defence in south London, and there should be no concerns given his comfortable display on the opening weekend.
Lovren is not likely to be back in contention until after the September international break, and with Matip struggling to impress of late their younger counterpart has a vital opportunity.
Elsewhere, the manager could hand Fabinho his Liverpool debut for Liverpool, with the likes of Jordan Henderson, Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge also fit and available.