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Jordan Henderson reveals how Klopp has altered his tactics to help manage his injuries

Jordan Henderson has revealed that Jurgen Klopp‘s tactics have altered to navigate the various injury issues plaguing his starters, as he returns to the No. 6 role for Liverpool.

At this point, it is easier to list those among Klopp’s squad who have not suffered with fitness problems midway into the season.

Andy Robertson, Gini Wijnaldum, Curtis Jones and Roberto Firmino are the only regular starters not to have been sidelined at any point this season, with cases of COVID-19 adding to the myriad injuries.

The manager has, therefore, employed rotation to keep players from the ‘red zone’, with it a rarity that Klopp is able to name an unchanged side from game to game.

Henderson, who switched from his regular stint as a deep-lying midfielder to more of an offensive role as a No. 8 last season, has explained how knee and back issues have seen Klopp tailor his role again.

“At the end of last year I played more as an 8, but with certain injuries I’ve had this season I’ve played a little deeper again,” the Liverpool captain told the Guardian.

“I feel I can contribute to both positions.”

Discussing his shift to the No. 6 role early into Klopp’s reign as manager, Henderson said that he “doesn’t think many people would have seen how I could do that role,” and that it is “thanks to Jurgen” that he has.

“There were times when I wasn’t performing well. Then you would question if I was good enough. But I had confidence in the manager and kept working and I matured,” he continued.

“I’m really grateful for having that opportunity because my all-round game has improved defensively and offensively.”

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 30, 2020: Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of course, Henderson’s time back in the engine room is not wholly due to his own injuries, with Fabinho unavailable in midfield due to his full-time duty at centre-back, while Thiago has been sidelined for much of the season.

But the 30-year-old has highlighted how Klopp has looked to preserve his energy in a less demanding role, instead of utilising Wijnaldum in the position.

It is also a testament to Wijnaldum’s fitness that he has remained as a box-to-box midfielder throughout the campaign so far, with this a hugely reliable asset that cannot be underestimated.

There are likely to be other tweaks within Klopp’s system that are informed by the fitness of his players – such as a reduced focus on Trent Alexander-Arnold as the key attacking outlet, with the right-back having suffered with COVID-19 and a calf injury this season.

This demonstrates the ability of Klopp and his staff to roll with the punches throughout a ridiculously demanding schedule, and this may well be improved further by the addition of new head of recovery and performance Andreas Schlumberger.

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