Liverpool’s remaining defensive options vs West Ham as injury crisis deepens

Fabinho hobbled off injured during Liverpool’s 2-0 win over FC Midtjylland in the Champions League on Tuesday night – meaning Joe Gomez is the only senior centre-back available for Jurgen Klopp ahead of Saturday’s clash with West Ham.

The Premier League champions have already lost star defender Virgil van Dijk to a potentially season-ending ACL injury, while Joel Matip is still yet to recover from a muscle problem.

As a result, Fabinho was forced to shift from midfield to centre-back in Tuesday’s meeting with Midtjylland, but the Brazilian was forced off after half an hour with a hamstring injury.

He is therefore expected to miss out when the Hammers visit Anfield on Saturday, so who will partner Gomez at the heart of Liverpool’s defence?

Rhys Williams

The strongest candidate to fill in at centre-back is 19-year-old Williams, who impressed after replacing the injured Fabinho against Midtjylland.

Klopp is clearly a big fan of the England Under-21 ace, handing him his first four senior appearances for Liverpool in the Champions League and Carabao Cup this season.

And with very little options at his disposal, he could also give Williams his Premier League debut this weekend.

Nathaniel Phillips

If he doesn’t feel Williams is ready to be thrown in at the deep end against West Ham, Klopp could turn to a more experienced youngster in Phillips.

The 23-year-old, also a product of Liverpool’s academy, made 22 appearances on loan at Stuttgart last term and could be seen as the safer option on Saturday.

However, he has only made one senior appearance for the Reds since emerging from their youth ranks in 2018, coming in January’s FA Cup win over Everton after briefly returning from Stuttgart during Germany’s winter break.

Billy Koumetio

Another potential option for Liverpool is 17-year-old Koumetio, who penned his first professional contract at Anfield in August.

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Yet speaking after the win over Midtjylland, Klopp said: “Apart from Rhys, we have Nat Phillips who is in the Champions League squad. Billy Koumetio, I’m not sure if he can train on Wednesday but will be back in training soon.

“We have very young and inexperienced alternatives, and it looks like we will have to use one of them. I don’t know yet.”

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