Monday 22 July 2019

Klopp plays down need to strengthen Liverpool defence in January

Two more defenders have joined the Reds’ injury list.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to turn to the January transfer window for defensive reinforcements (Mike Egerton/PA).
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to turn to the January transfer window for defensive reinforcements (Mike Egerton/PA).

By Carl Markham, Press Association Sport

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to make a move during the January transfer window after insisting he his current defensive problems are not a crisis.

Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold (foot) and Joel Matip (broken collarbone) this week joined Joe Gomez (fractured leg) on the injury list.

The time they will be out will vary but the former two are likely to be sidelined for about five weeks, taking Klopp to the middle of next month.

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Trent Alexander-Arnold has a foot injury (Chris Radburn/PA)

Midfielder James Milner played at right-back recently and Nathaniel Clyne has returned to the fitness, although just 90 minutes of action in one EFL Cup game this season and six appearances in the last season and a half means he will have to be managed carefully.

Klopp admits he may have to get creative but that is unlikely to involve spending in January.

“A crisis is if you feel it is a crisis. With Trent, it’s not as serious as with the other two boys, but of course it’s not top class news, that’s clear,” he said.

“Our situation is like this: if you would have asked me two weeks before if we were doing anything in the transfer window I would have said probably not.

“Now we have two centre-halves left. Will we do something? Not really likely because they are not out for (long).”

A back problem restricted Clyne to just five appearances in final two months of last season and his injury issues have continued into the current campaign but his return to full training is timely.

“Is he ready for 90 minutes? I don’t know. But is he ready? Yes,” added Klopp.

“Clyne is a very experienced player. Is it perfect? No. But is he experienced enough to do it? Yes, 100 per cent.

“We have other options so we will not push Clyney after not the longest spell of training.

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Nathaniel Clyne has made a timely return to training (Nick Potts/PA)

“As long as we have options everything is fine. If we don’t have the obvious option any more then we need to be creative.

“Hopefully we don’t have to be creative too often because it’s never a good sign for the squad.”

Liverpool head into the weekend top of the Premier League but could be deposed by Manchester City by the time they face arch-rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

Despite sixth-placed United being 16 points behind, Klopp knows better than to write-off Jose Mourinho’s side despite all the criticism being levelled at the Portuguese.

“I was never interested in the points of Manchester United, and I am not today,” he said.

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Klopp will renew rivalries this weekend (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I am aware of the criticism and stuff but when we analyse them and switch off the sound, there is a lot of quality.

“There is speed, technique, physical strength, pretty much everything. They still have De Gea in goal, unbelievable. They have strikers they can switch between (Marcus) Rashford, (Romelu) Lukaku, (Jesse) Lingard, (Anthony) Martial, unbelievable quality.

“We don’t judge the points they have, we judge the quality they have, and we prepare for that.”

Mourinho has been wrestling with the problem of how to get the best out of £89million midfielder Paul Pogba.

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Klopp refused to be drawn on his thoughts on Paul Pogba (Mike Egerton/PA)

Klopp was asked whether he thought United were better with or without the World Cup winner.

“I don’t know how much you ask Jose Mourinho about players from us? Does somebody ask him about Gini Wijnaldum? I think 100 per cent not,” said the German.

“What can I say? Paul Pogba is a world-class player. That’s all I can say, and he’s a Man United player so I think we should prepare for him as well.”

The Liverpool boss was also cheekily asked whether he would like to manage the France international after several pundits suggested he or Pep Guardiola would get more out of the 25-year-old.

“You know better than I, what happens if I give an answer to that question so no answer!” he said.

“If you can make a story with that, that would be cool. ‘Klopp denies an answer!’”

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