LONDON, United Kingdom, Jan 14 – Brazil midfielder Fabinho impressed Jurgen Klopp enough in central defence in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Brighton to reassure the Liverpool manager he can be a reliable stop-gap partner for Virgil van Dijk.
Croatian Dejan Lovren added to the problems in central defence when the World Cup finalist suffered a hamstring injury in the FA Cup defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers last Monday.
Joe Gomez is still out with a foot injury although Cameroon international Joel Matip has returned to training after recovering from a broken collarbone.
Klopp, though, enthused over Fabinho’s performance against an admittedly limited Brighton attack which leaves his side seven points clear of Manchester City, although the champions can reduce it to four if they beat Wolves later on Monday.
“He is a brilliant player and I am happy that he can play (against Brighton) — it’s now pretty clear (that he can play in defence),” said Klopp.
“It’s not like it came one attack after the other from Brighton.
“We had the ball most of the time, so then it makes sense to have a good footballer in that position.
“He did well in these situations (dealing with the high ball) and with (playing) the ball it’s absolutely clear. He has a defending brain and can do it in different positions, it’s good.”
Klopp is also hopeful that his young full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has not damaged his ankle too badly.
The 20-year-old England international failed to start against Brighton after turning his ankle when warming up.
“Trent on the ground — he’s a hard boy so that’s not a good sign and the doc came, something with the ankle,” said the 51-year-old German.
“And it was pretty painful. He made the sprints, but I didn’t like the way he did the sprints because when he slowed down, I thought it looked a bit like limping.
“I don’t know exactly what it was and I hope it will not take long, that he doesn’t feel it any more.”