Injuries to Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan have given Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp food for thought as he struggles to pick his defence for the opening Premier League fixture against West Ham United at Anfield this weekend.
The injury-prone Matip has suffered a hip problem, whilst Estonian defender Klavan has a slight hamstring issue and both face a race to be fit to feature against the Hammers on Sunday.
Matip was forced to leave Liverpool’s pre-season tour of the USA and the pair have featured very little since returning to the squad from their summer holidays.
World Cup finalist Dejan Lovren returned to Melwood on Monday and after not featuring in Liverpool’s pre-season, Sunday’s Premier League opener feels as if it has come just too soon for the Croatian.
He would have been expected to partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Reds defence if he was match fit, with Klopp rating the defender very highly.
Klopp only has two first-team central defenders match fit, through Dutch captain van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
Gomez has predominantly featured at the centre of the defence in pre-season and seems the most likely candidate to partner the Holland International.
Trust in youth
The 21-year-old prospect will be raring to clinch an opportunity centrally after impressing in the right-back role last season in rotation with revelation Trent Alexander-Arnold who will also be fighting for a starting role at right back after returning to the squad last week and featuring in the Reds 5-0 romping of Italian side Napoli.
Youngster Nathaniel Phillips has also impressed the manager and Reds supporters through pre-season, but he is certainly behind Gomez in the pecking order and is a bright star set for a positive future.
It is extremely unlikely that Liverpool would dip into the transfer market to purchase a central defender with Klopp happy with his options in that position once trio; Lovren, Matip and Klavan all re-enter the fold.