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Jurgen Klopp questions John Stones’ England call-up over Joe Gomez

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Jurgen Klopp has suggested preferential treatment for Man City centre-back John Stones has kept Joe Gomez out for England, despite rarely playing for Liverpool.

Since his return from a long-term knee injury, Gomez has made just two starts for the Reds, with three more appearances coming from the bench – two at right-back, one at left-back.

Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip are Klopp’s first-choice pairing, while new signing Ibrahima Konate is also competing for minutes having started twice across the Premier League and League Cup.

It came as no surprise, then, that Gomez was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad to play Andorra and Hungary this month – though as Klopp has pointed out, Stones received a call-up having yet to feature for Man City this season.

“I know that Gareth from time to time reacts if a player is not playing their club, then he’s not playing for the national team,” the manager told reporters on Friday.

“Obviously there’s a special rule for Mr Stones! But Joe didn’t get called up. It would have helped him to have some games.”

Of course, it is rich for Klopp to claim Gomez deserved an England place given he is not using him regularly himself, though he insists that is due to the quality of competition.

“I really think he’s an absolutely exceptional centre-half, but very good for us in the moment [is that] we have five exceptional centre-halves,” he continued.

Nat Phillips is not making the squad most of the time, because of the numbers we can only involve, but he trains exceptional as well. Ibou and Joe do that as well.

“Joey has nothing to do differently, just to continue working and then everything will be fine, 100 percent.”

So far this season, only Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Alisson have played more minutes for Liverpool than Van Dijk and Matip, who have completed eight full games.

However, Klopp has stressed that Gomez and Konate will be needed over the course of the campaign, with there being no sense in heavy rotation at centre-back in the early months.

“We need the boys over the year, it’s still early in the season. You need to get settled, you need to find rhythm, changing then every week makes not too much sense,” Klopp explained.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, September 27, 2021: Liverpool's Joe Gomez (L) and Virgil van Dijk during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 2 game between FC Porto and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“It was always clear, last year taught us obviously that we need at least four centre-halves, but when they are all healthy we then get these questions.

“When we only have three and two of them are not healthy, then we have other questions.

“That’s how you build a squad, especially when you have the situation we had last year.

“That’s now not every week perfectly comfortable for the players, but it’s the situation and [they] deal really well with it.

“The boys know time will come for them, and the quality they have is outstanding. So it’s for me in the moment a very good situation.”

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