Jurgen Klopp confirmed Fabinho will miss Saturday’s trip to Leicester with a “little muscle issue”, while the Liverpool boss has backed Alisson Becker to bounce back from his mistakes against Manchester City.
Fabinho returned for Liverpool in the 4-1 home defeat to City last weekend, but the fresh muscle problem rules him out of the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday, the opening Premier League match of the weekend which sees third host fourth at the King Power Stadium.
Asked whether Deadline Day signings Ozan Kabak or Ben Davies could debut at centre-back, Klopp admitted he was wary of the threat posed by Leicester’s “world-class” striker Jamie Vardy.
- Jamie Carragher on the three positions Liverpool must strengthen
- Gary Neville: Liverpool look drained | City will be champions
- Premier League table | Live on Sky
Klopp said: “Jamie is obviously a proper challenge in this league. We can only do that with the whole team, you have to avoid the passes to him. He’s a world-class player for sure, in a specific area of the pitch and with his speed that’s really tricky.
“With the boys, we’ve had some sessions together where we could work on this defensive setup, and that’s very important, but we have as well other players available. Nate Phillips did really well together with Hendo [Jordan Henderson] and Fab.
“Fab will not be available by the way, he suffered again a little muscle issue so will be out for this game. So we have to find a solution, all of them had the chance this week to show in training who’s ready, so I have to make a decision tomorrow.”
Klopp added that he was uncertain whether Fabinho would be fit to feature in next week’s Champions League tie against RB Leipzig or the Premier League match at home to Everton on February 20, live on Sky Sports.
Klopp also suggested Naby Keita is close to a return, having not played since December due to an ankle injury, while Diogo Jota could take part in full training this month after a knee injury also saw the forward sidelined since the end of last year.
“[Keita] is back on the pitch but not with the team yet,” Klopp added. “Individual training sessions, the final stages of his rehab, but still not there.
“Diogo is close, but not as close as Naby for example. He’s on the pitch as well, individual sessions, not the same intensity. After a longer time in rehab, you have to train really intense before you can go back to team training. Diogo, two or three weeks? Maybe? But probably the medical team hits me now but I think that’s kind of possible. Back in full training maybe then we’ll see how long it takes.”
Alisson ‘calm’ after Man City mistakes
After Alisson’s two costly errors against City last weekend, Klopp said goalkeepers tend to be their own harshest critics, and the Liverpool boss has backed the Brazilian to return to his “normal level” against Leicester.
“We of course had a little talk. He was not happy that it happened, but it’s very important to realise in a moment like this, goalkeepers in a long career they make mistakes.
“For a goalkeeper of Alisson Becker’s quality it’s pretty rare he makes these kind of mistakes, then he makes two of them in one game. They concede a goal and they know earlier than all the rest of the world, ‘I should have saved it’, and they have to deal with that always.
“Now there’s just a few days between the City game and this game, and there was absolutely no real criticism from the players because everybody knows how good he is. He’s a very calm person, and now the next game is coming up and it’s good, so he can play his normal level again, then everything will be fine.”
The three positions where Liverpool need a boost
Former Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher argued Klopp could not have managed his players’ workload much better than he has, simply because he does not have the depth in reverse to rest and rotate his starting XI.
Instead, the Sky Sports pundit picked out the three key positions Liverpool must now strengthen to kick on again.
“People say, ‘Well, Jurgen doesn’t rotate’. Liverpool haven’t got the quality of squad and back up of other clubs. Liverpool wouldn’t have won the trophies they have done over the last two or three years if he’d rotated.
“I still think they will be back – but they need three players.
“They need a centre-back – maybe he’s joined now in Ozan Kabak – they need someone to replace Wijnaldum, and they need someone in the front three.
“And I’m not talking about players on the bench. I’m talking about players to come into the team like Matip, Wijnaldum, and Mane did, like Salah, Van Dijk, and Alisson. That’s what Liverpool need.”