Ready or not, injuries to force Fabinho into starting XI

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Fabinho‘s first few months at Liverpool haven’t exactly gone to plan as the Brazilian has started just one of 12 games this season, but Jurgen Klopp is confident that the 25-year-old midfielder is ready for a large role beginning with Wednesday’s must-win outing in the UEFA Champions League.

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Though, in truth, due to injuries, he doesn’t have any other choice.

With Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson each set to miss the clash with Red Star Belgrade at Anfield due to hamstring injuries, Fabinho is the obvious next man up. It’s sink-or-swim time after arriving rom Monaco for $55 million in the summer.

Klopp believes that Fabinho’s personality — that of a quiet man still very much acclimating to a very different world — has played a massive part in his lack of confidence, which has in turn resulted in just 122 minutes of playing time. There’s the confidence and the new surroundings, but also the new system. All together, it’s a lot of moving parts — quotes from the Guardian:

“He has had to adapt to the style of play and, if you watch Fabinho playing at Monaco, he was full of confidence. You come to a new club and it depends a bit on your personality. He’s not the loudest person on the planet.

“It’s not that he’s come in and said, ‘Sit down all of you and I’ll explain how we do it because Monaco were in the Champions League semifinal the year before and became French champions.’ He is more a reserved person, looking, watching, absorbing, and it always takes a little bit more time. But on the pitch, he is back now and that’s good now. All fine.

“[Tuesday was] his birthday, so it would be a nice present. I didn’t make the starting lineup yet but he has been here a few months now, got used to a few things, and so we will use him.”

“He has all the qualities — hard challenges, good offensively, good defensively, quick, good shooter, fantastic set pieces, good header; all these things. Strategic, too, he is good strategically in the right moment. But it’s been a different system. We just play different and that always needs time. He’s just a fantastic addition and can improve us from a specific moment on.

“Go back a year and look at Andy Robertson. He played one or two games by this stage, not too many, and then he became the player he now is. We cannot — I cannot — shorten the time it takes [to settle]. Maybe somebody can, but I can’t. Ilkay Gundogan needed more or less half a year [at Borussia Dortmund] without being in the squad, more or less. After that, he played pretty much each game. That’s how things go.”