Liverpool's defensive problems could open the door for Dubliner Conor Masterson
Injuries to Joe Gomez and Joel Matip could open the door for fit-again Dubliner Conor Masterson as Liverpool face into the busy Christmas schedule with just first-team two centre-halves.
Gomez (fractured leg) and Matip (broken collarbone) face lengthy spells on the sidelines, leaving Kop boss Jurgen Klopp with just two recognised centre-halves in Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren ahead of Sunday's crucial Premier League clash against Manchester United at Anfield.
Sunday's game kickstarts a run of five matches in 18 days for Klopp's table toppers and that could mean a path to the first-team squad for Masterson (20), who is back fit after missing the start of the season due to an injury he sustained in the build up to last year's Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid.
The promising centre-back missed 10 weeks but has been an ever-present at the heart of the Liverpool Under-23 defence since making his return at the start of November.
Nat Phillips is another option to promote from the senior squad but he is struggling with an Achilles problem.
Masterson was on the bench for the Champions League quarter-final win over Manchester City last season and Klopp has previously said that he would be willing to give him game time.
"Conor is a good boy, he plays in our Under-23s and was captain of the Under-18s, and is very confident," Klopp said last season.
"I'm not sure if that's typical for Ireland but when I said to him that he will be in the squad, he said: 'I'm ready man'."