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Liverpool Face Defensive Crisis Ahead Of Crunch Period

Liverpool were dealt a major injury blow on Wednesday when it was announced that Joel Matip will be out for six weeks with a broken collarbone suffered in the Champions League win over Napoli.

The center back could miss as many as 10 games during the busiest period of the season and will need surgery after his collision with Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

The blow could not have come at a worse time for manager Jurgen Klopp, who last week saw Joe Gomez ruled out for six weeks. The England defender broke his left leg in a 3-1 win at Burnley but does not need surgery.

Those injuries have left Liverpool extremely short of central defensive options with Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren as the only two fit first-team players in that position as they head into a crucial part of their schedule.

Liverpool are top of the Premier League for the first time under Klopp, but the Reds title credentials will be severely tested in the coming weeks as they face Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City in their six games between now and January 7 as well as Newcastle and two trips to Wolves.

As the games start to come thick and fast, Klopp may have to turn to two highly-regarded youth players, Nat Phillips and Conor Masterson, to step into the fray or call one of his senior stars to adapt to a new position.

It is the latter that is more likely as Klopp could use Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum as makeshift defenders.

Before being moved into midfield at Monaco, Fabinho was a right back by trade and his imposing figure, ability on the ball and mobility makes him an attractive option.

Despite his box-to-box energy in midfield, Wijnaldum has been used at centre back before by Klopp. The Dutchman played in a defensive trio alongside Lovren at Emre Can at Brighton last season.

Wijnaldum impressed as the Reds ran out comfortable 5-1 winners over Chris Hughton’s side at the Amex.

LIVERPOOL’S FESTIVE FIXTURES

  • December 16 – Manchester United (H)
  • December 21 – Wolves (A)
  • December 26 – Newcastle (H)
  • December 29 – Arsenal (H)
  • January 3 – Manchester City (A)
  • January 7 – Wolves (A) FA Cup