Reds short-handed in central defence

LONDON • Liverpool will be short of defensive options when they visit Brighton and Hove Albion today, after manager Jurgen Klopp ruled Joel Matip out of the Premier League clash.

The centre-back suffered an injury in the Reds' midweek league win at Stoke City and his most obvious replacement, Ragnar Klavan, has been ill.

An unfit Dejan Lovren featured in the 3-0 win at Stoke after Klavan pulled out through illness. And the Croatia international and Joe Gomez are the only senior centrebacks available today.

"Joel Matip is out. After the game, he had a problem," Klopp told a press conference yesterday.

"Ragnar Klavan was ill, hopefully he isn't any more. It's not that we have a big choice to make in defence."

The German is at least thankful that he can select goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. The Belgian avoided a red card despite tripping Mame Biram Diouf on the edge of the box on Wednesday, and Klopp now admits his side caught a break.

"It was the first time this season we were lucky in this situation," he admitted. "I was 100 per cent sure it was the right decision at the time."

Gomez knows Liverpool face a run of games which could define their season, with a crunch clash against Spartak Moscow next week as they look to reach the knockout stage of the Champions League.

Joe Gomez (above) and Dejan Lovren may be the only senior Liverpool centre-backs available against Brighton today. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Reds are fifth in the Premier League table, a huge 14 points behind table-topping Manchester City, but they are in striking distance of Manchester United Chelsea and Arsenal above them.

"It's going to be a make-or-break period in terms of challenging," he said.

"What we want to try to do is capitalise on the points available and hopefully we can keep on a decent run and get as many as we can."

Liverpool have won four of their last five league outings while Brighton are winless in their last three league games. But Klopp expects a tough game.

"They defend deep and together but they play football as well as they have the skilful players. It will be a good mix," he said.

"They have had a few very good results already this season.

"It will not be easy for us but we are in a good moment too, so we should use that."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2017, with the headline 'Reds short-handed in central defence'. Print Edition | Subscribe