Jurgen Klopp will have no choice but to be creative in defence and find a “Mascherano-like’ solution for Liverpool throughout the festive period.
The Reds’ centre-back woes increased ten-fold on Thursday after the club confirmed Joe Gomez will miss “a significant part of the remainder of 2020/21” due to a patella tendon injury.
It is the latest blow to the 23-year-old who now faces the fourth significant layoff of his young career, which leaves Liverpool down to one senior specialist at centre-back.
And while Matip returned to action at Man City after being sidelined since the Merseyside derby and Fabinho is to return after the international break, Liverpool will have no choice but to be creative.
A run of 12 games awaits from Leicester on November 21 to Southampton on January 2, when the transfer window will open, as rotation will be required to prevent more casualties throughout the festive period.
Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips and even Billy Koumetio are to provide suitable back-up, but they too will need to be managed. And with extra bodies needed, Klopp could now very well make good of his “Mascherano” solution.
The manager touched on the success of the defensive midfielder shifting to centre-back, with height proving not to be an issue in the aftermath of the Merseyside derby.
“We still, obviously, have other options like Hendo, or Gini or James [Milner] and Robbo can play centre-half as well,” Klopp said last month.
“They are all not smaller than Mascherano, for example, and he played pretty well in that position.”
The hope will be that Liverpool can land a suitable target in January, but in the interim, the players he name-checked could very well do a job for the Reds.
And while not a natural position for any of them, their years of experience cannot be undervalued.
With Matip having a poor injury track-record, Klopp will need to embrace his excitement over finding “the solutions” to yet another challenge thrown his way as consistency with personnel at the back is no longer on the cards.
Liverpool are no strangers to adversity and the mental resilience needed to navigate it and they will need another heroic effort from all players to see this one out.