Andy Robertson says that Liverpool deadline-day signing Ben Davies will need time to settle following his transfer from Preston North End earlier this month.
Davies, 25, has yet to feature under Jurgen Klopp since making the transition from the Championship, with opportunities few and far between.
Meanwhile, fellow January recruit Ozan Kabak has clocked up three appearances in that period, although he has endured a mixed bag of results against Leicester, RB Leipzig and Everton.
And following the eight-week injury lay-off to Jordan Henderson, Klopp now has the perfect opportunity of utilising his 19th centre-back pairing of the season against Sheffield United on Sunday.
Fabinho, too, is unlikely to feature with the Brazilian only returning to training this morning.
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So, it seems like now represents as good a chance as any to get Davies into the first-team picture. He has played against a number of Chris Wilder’s players, after all, and is adept with the physical side of the game as well as his reading of play and technical ability on the ball.
He will need time
Former Liverpool defender Jose Enrique recently called for Klopp to hand Davies his inaugural Premier League bout tomorrow evening.
“In my opinion, it will be Davies either with Phillips or Kabak,” Enrique said via his Instagram account.
“I’m not sure but I’m going down more for Philips but definitely want to see Davies play is never going to be a better chance for him because when Fabinho is back we know what happens.”
The English champions, then, will be forced to cope without their talismanic skipper for the foreseeable future, after he underwent surgery on an adductor injury.
Robertson echoed his manager’s views that Henderson can still have a major influence in the dressing room, but equally stressed the need for the other leaders in the dressing room to step up in the 30-year-old’s absence.
He also highlighted the impact Davies can have in the coming weeks, although he levelled that he will need time to settle into his new role.
“Look, a huge blow for us, losing your captain for quite a few weeks is never good,” he said, per the club’s official website.
“But, for once, Hendo needs to put himself first, for certainly the next couple of weeks. He has had surgery and he needs to make sure he recovers as well as he can, so he needs to try to forget about all of us just now and just focus on his recovery.
“Usually we have Virg who is very vocal and leads by example. We have Joel who leads by example. We’ve got Fabinho, Hendo, Nat Phillips has been there this season. Ozan Kabak who’s a young lad. Big Rhys and Ben Davies, who’s been signed from Preston and needs time.”
No better time for Davies to come in
It goes without saying, but 18 alternate centre-back pairings this season is nothing shy of a catastrophe.
Although the root of Liverpool’s problems this season does not require forensic investigation, the response to it might.
Indeed, it has been striking that in the midst of a dip turning into a slump, Liverpool and Klopp have sought out little change.
What we mean by this is the style has remained the same – the system, too.
“The only way I know is to try it again, and again, and again,” Klopp said during his pre-match press conference prior to the Everton game.
It was a telling statement from the manager, too. It typified Klopp’s trust in the players in how sooner or later, his team will turn things around.
Unfortunately, this just hasn’t been the case. His players look bereft and totally absent of confidence – and in the midst of a four-match PL losing run, a tactical change-up would certainly be welcomed.
Davies is a player Klopp believes looks ‘football smart’. He should have no qualms, then, in throwing the Englishman in at the deep end at Bramall Lane tomorrow afternoon.
Start that process now and get Davies into the first-team picture, there certainly isn’t a better time to do so.