Jürgen Klopp’s squad options increasing ahead of tricky end of season run-in

With Naby Keïta, Fabinho and Diogo Jota all close to full fitness, Jürgen Klopp is set to be blessed with more squad options even if central defensive options remain limited.

The German manager gave Naby Keïta a 10-minute cameo against Sheffield United which is a major boost to the Reds’ hopes of returning to the Champions League places in the next few weeks.

With Chelsea set to visit Anfield on Thursday evening, it would be a massive statement of intent to see Jota and Fabinho among the substitutes after respective injury layoffs.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 19: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Fabinho of Liverpool during a rehabilitation session at AXA Training Centre on February 19, 2021 in Kirkby, England. PHOTO BY ANDREW POWELL/LIVERPOOL FC VIA GETTY IMAGES.

When Fabinho does return to the starting lineup, however, he cannot be deployed as a centre back for two reasons. First and foremost, he is a world-class defensive midfielder and Liverpool suffer without his steel in the middle of the park.

While you could argue that Liverpool’s immaculate defensive reputation prior to this season had a lot to do with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Alisson, Fabinho’s ability to protect the back four goes unnoticed a lot of the time.

Secondly, and rather surprisingly, Nat Philipps wholeheartedly deserves his place in the side at the moment. Liverpool’s two best defensive performances of late have come against West Ham and Sheffield United and the 23-year-old was in the thick of things in both games.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Michail Antonio of West Ham United battles for possession with Nathaniel Phillips of Liverpool during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at London Stadium on January 31, 2021 in London, England. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY JUSTIN SETTERFIELD/GETTY IMAGES.

By beating Chris Wilder’s side 2-0, Liverpool ended their four-game losing streak in the Premier League and most importantly gained some momentum ahead of their clash with Chelsea which could see them leapfrog the Blues as well as West Ham if the Hammers fail to beat Leeds United next week Monday.

The Premier League table hardly makes for happy reading as far as Liverpool fans are concerned but ending this injury-cursed campaign in the top four will at least mean the Reds won’t be hamstrung in the transfer market.

Michael Mongie
Football Central Media Group founder, owner and editor.

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