Jurgen Klopp appears to suggest Billy Koumetio is first-team bound. The boss also offered a reminder of his track-record.
Jurgen Klopp moved to reassure people of his defensive track-record ahead of Liverpool v Leicester City. It was a way of reminding everyone of what young defenders can do, in fact.
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are both out long-term, leaving only Joel Matip as a senior recognised centre-half. Fabinho can deputise, of course, but Jordan Henderson’s injury means he may have to play in midfield.
It leaves two inexperienced defenders on the brink of starting against the league leaders. Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips have started games before but this would be the biggest test yet.
Klopp, however, has been in a similar situation before.
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“I don’t want to compare situations but when I came to Dortmund in 2008 my two centre-halves were 19 and turned 20 that winter and we played with them for that entire time,” he explained, per Sky Sports.
“Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic.
“We have talent here. They are young – 18, 19, 23 – and we have more experienced players, so we will see. Everybody has a chance.
“They can smell the chance and they step up. They want to show they are ready and we will see.”
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It’s not all doom and gloom, then. Klopp does in fact know what he’s doing and he can quickly develop centre-halves into top-flight defenders.
Now, as he says, we can’t compare the two situations too much. Klopp consciously pushed forward with Hummels and Subotic at Borussia Dortmund, after all.
That’s not the case at Liverpool. Williams and Phillips weren’t supposed to play significant roles this season – possibly no roles at all.
One other interesting comment there, though, is that he’s mentioned three ages. They’re not arbitrary, either, as Klopp jumped from 19 to 23.
Williams is 19, Phillips is 23 and we’ve got to imagine that Billy Koumetio is the 18-year-old.
If so, this suggests we’ll see Koumetio in the first-team before long. December will be the busiest part of the season, after all, and we know the teenager is impressing.
Altogether, Klopp has given us plenty of reasons to be excited for the youngsters here.