Jurgen Klopp leaves no room for doubt as he makes his choice between two young defenders. The Liverpool boss had a tough decision.
Jurgen Klopp had a bid decision to make as soon as Joel Matip was out of Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur. That injury meant the boss had none of his senior centre-halves available.
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are both out long-term – potentially for the entire season – while Matip was the only remaining one.
But the Cameroonian has had injury troubles for a year now. It wasn’t any great surprise that he’s out but it’s still a sticky situation.
Fabinho plays centre-half now, of course, but it’s not his natural position. He’s still learning and, at time, he still plays it as he does defensive midfield. Rash, tackle first, and physical.
Having a natural centre-half alongside him is important and Klopp had a choice of two young defenders.
Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips.
He’s used both previously without actually having to put one over the other. Williams played Champions League, Phillips in the Premier League.
But with European competition on hold, that option isn’t available. Instead, the Liverpool boss had to pick who was best to face Tottenham.
Spurs’ attack is the best in the league right now and represents an enormous test for whoever he picks. Neither had top-flight experience ahead of this season, after all, let alone against world-class forwards.
Klopp made his choice, though, and it’s a clear one – Williams. He went for the less experienced of the two, even after Phillips shone in his previous outing. It suggests he either believes Williams is better or just more worth investing time in.
It probably represents the end of Phillips’ chance at a proper Liverpool career. That chance was slim anyway, given it depended on three injuries, but it did arrive.
Instead, Williams has the nod. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance and if he performs well, the 19-year-old has a shot at ceasing any January activity.
Klopp put his faith in Williams, now let’s see if he takes that opportunity.