Trent Alexander-Arnold and Gini Wijnaldum are out of Liverpool’s meeting with Crystal Palace this Saturday, according to The Times.
The duo have played key roles for Jurgen Klopp this season and the injuries create a dilemma for the boss. With Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez all doubts, too, what does Klopp do?
It’s a tricky one but Liverpool are fortunate that they’ve got a home game against Palace next. That’s a game they’ll expect to win with the squad they have, injuries or not.
A choice at right-back
Liverpool expect Alexander-Arnold to miss the next four weeks, making right-back the pressing concern. The decision to loan-out Nathaniel Clyne doesn’t look too good in hindsight, although Liverpool still have three options.
The first, and perhaps most likely, is James Milner. Milner has filled in at right back on a couple of occasions this season and he showed in 16/17 that he’s more than capable at full-back.
Then there’s Rafael Camacho, who played at right-back in pre-season as well as in the League Cup against Wolves. Klopp seems unlikely to gamble on the youngster with the title race so tense, however.
The third option, and arguably best suited, is Fabinho. The Brazilian was a right-back during his first few years at AS Monaco and would be perfectly capable of playing there.
Injuries to other players complicate things, however.
Left short in midfield
Fabinho covered at centre-back against Brighton after Klopp was left without anyone to partner Virgil van Dijk. He may well be in the same situation if Matip isn’t fully fit.
That would mean Milner likely playing right-back and suddenly Klopp has lost two midfield options to his defence. Wijnaldum’s injury then takes away a third option, leaving Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita.
Keita hasn’t been entirely reliable so far but Klopp may have to take a chance. He’ll have to do that regardless, though.
Tackling Palace without Trent or Wijnaldum
He could take that chance on Matip’s fitness to put Fabinho back in midfield. He could take it on Camacho’s readiness to free Milner back up. Or he can entrust Keita to play alongside Henderson.
The latter feels like the safest option. Matip could hurt himself further if he plays and make this problem go on for longer. If it’s then between the readiness of Camacho & Keita, you surely pick the 22-year-old international over the 18-year-old without a league game.
Klopp will choose a makeshift team no matter what – he’s been left without that choice. Trent and Wijnaldum would both have featured against Palace in all likelihood but the squad can be moved around to cope.
Klopp has a puzzle to solve but he should have the pieces to do it. He just has to work out how to fit them together.