Fabinho picking up a hamstring injury was ‘the last thing we needed’ said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
He’s spot on.
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Fabinho, 27, came off in the first half of Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League win over Midtjylland on Wednesday and that means the Reds are now without Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Joel Matip at center back.
Joe Gomez is their last center back standing, as teenager Rhys Williams came off the bench and is likely to play against West Ham this Saturday (watch live, 1:30pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).
Speaking to BT Sport after the win, Klopp isn’t too optimistic about having Fabinho back soon.
“It’s exactly the last thing we needed. What can I say? I know he felt his hamstring, that’s not good, he didn’t feel it that much, he said he could have played on but with no sprints any more so that doesn’t help in that position obviously. We’ll see, we have to do a scan and then we’ll know more, but that’s not good, of course.”
What now for Liverpool at center back?
Liverpool and Klopp cannot catch a break when it comes to defensive injuries. Virgil van Dijk is out for the season, Fabinho is out for a little while, Matip is trying to rush back and Gomez has had injury problems too.
With Alisson returning from injury in goal, they at least have him trying to hold things together at the back but now it is down to Rhys Williams, 19, and Joe Gomez to steady the ship as another teenager, Sepp van den Berg, sits waiting on the bench and Nathaniel Phillips, 23, has slightly more experience but has never got near the Liverpool first team and had a loan spell at Stuttgart last season.
“We have really young and inexperienced options,” Klopp said.
What is on the horizon for Liverpool?
After their game against West Ham on Saturday they have a tough run of games coming up, but the fact they’ve managed to stay level with first-place Everton on points is quite remarkable given everything that has been thrown at them so far.
Their next four games are Atalanta (A), Manchester City (A), Leicester City (H) and Atalanta (H). That is a tough run of games at precisely the wrong for Klopp and his team.
As long as they stay injury free, they should be fine. But playing Man City and Leicester in the Premier League will test their makeshift center backs to the limit, and Atalanta aren’t shy of scoring a goal, or four, either.
Liverpool’s best form of defense will likely be attack, as their creaking and injury-hit defense will benefit massively from Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane scoring early and often at the other end. Liverpool need that to take the pressure off.