Liverpool is facing a defensive crisis for the second year in a row, and once again Jurgen Klopp has been forced to use a midfielder along the back line.
Last season through the winter, the Reds were struggling at right-back, with even deputizing James Milner out injured, forcing them to move Jordan Henderson along the back line for a Premier League game against Leicester City in late January, an eventual 1-1 draw. This year, the situation is similar.
Klopp has started club captain Henderson at center-back today against Monterrey in the Club World Cup alongside Joe Gomez, forced into the late change with Virgil Van Dijk stricken by illness. The Liverpool boss flew youth team defenders Sepp van den Berg and Kai-Jana Hoever down to Doha today, but with both having played nearly the full match against Aston Villa in League Cup action yesterday, neither is likely fit for a high-level game the very next day.
⭐️ TEAM NEWS for our #ClubWC semi-final ⭐️
Virgil van Dijk is out due to illness.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 18, 2019
Dejan Lovren is down with a muscle injury, while Joel Matip has been out with a knee injury since late October. Klopp could have potentially moved Trent Alexander-Arnold over to help cover, or even used the versatile James Milner in that role, but the Liverpool boss instead decided to rest the England international, with Milner covering at right-back.
Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have also been rested for the Monterrey match, with the duo on the bench to start the game. Liverpool will play in either the final or third-place game on Saturday before returning home to play its massive festive fixture opener against Leicester City on December 26. It’s possible the young Dutch defenders could be options for Saturday’s game but for now Henderson is the man to step in.