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Jurgen Klopp hints at Joe Gomez start – FA Cup tie a “good opportunity”

Joe Gomez is set for his seventh starting appearance at Nottingham Forest on Sunday, with Jurgen Klopp acknowledging the tough task of competing with Liverpool’s three other centre backs.

The 24-year-old has featured 14 times for the Reds this season for a total of only 620 minutes, with Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate ahead in the pecking order.

On his return from a serious knee injury, there has also been a spot of bad luck with a false positive Covid test robbing him of a certain start against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup.

But with another cup tie on Sunday, after a run of five games in the space of 14 days, Gomez looks set to have another shot in the XI on the eve of the international break.

Klopp hinted at a 15th appearance of the season as he praised Gomez and acknowledged what is, no doubt, to be a frustrating period for the young centre-back.

“Joe is outstanding – an outstanding centre-half and an even better boy,” Klopp told reporters on Friday.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 19, 2022: Liverpool's Joe Gomez lines-up with team-mates before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“He is good, but of course, it is not the situation he would have wished for [so far this season].

“He was injured for a really long time and then he comes back and thinks, ‘Ok, I’m ready, let’s go’ and then we have the situation where the three others could start earlier, could gain rhythm and stuff like this, game after game.

“He was a bit unlucky in the FA Cup round [against Shrewsbury] when Joey was not positive [for COVID-19] in that moment, but it was a false positive test so he couldn’t play. He was unlucky on top of that.

“He is a top-class player, he is not an inch worse than all the other three who are playing but the other three have rhythm, that’s why they play more often.

“That’s a little bit the problem we have, but at a club with our aims and ambitions, it can happen. It will not last forever, but so far it happened like this.

“The next game would be a good opportunity, that’s true.”

There is certainly the prospect of that “opportunity” coming at right-back should the manager opt to keep Van Dijk in the XI and with Trent Alexander-Arnold out injured.

But if Conor Bradley is given the nod at Nottingham Forest, a position in his favoured centre-back role next to Ibrahima Konate is likely from the start for only the third time.

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