Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted he may have no choice but to delve into the January market for new players, with the club’s injury crisis worsening during their League Cup semi-final clash with Stoke City.
A fine 1-0 win for the Reds was overshadowed after Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren both hobbled off in the game, pushing Liverpool’s threadbare squad even closer to breaking point. With Lucas Leiva and Kolo Toure finishing the match at centre-back, Klopp conceded some midseason defensive reinforcements may be on the cards.
“In this situation, with no centre-backs fit, I would say (transfers) is something we could look at,” said the former Borussia Dortmund boss, per Kristian Walsh of the Liverpool Echo. “Two weeks ago, we had three (centre-backs). That's a good situation. When we started the season we had five including Joe Gomez.”
With a busy January to come for Liverpool, including five more games to play before the end of the month, it’ll be a worry being so short in defensive positions. But as we can see here courtesy of Sky Sports News HQ, it’s not just at the back where injuries have taken hold of this squad:
With Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho and Lovren all suffering, it leaves the ageing Toure as Liverpool’s only centre-back option.
And although he was able to marshal the back four well against a Stoke team who seemed inhibited by the occasion on Tuesday evening, against teams like Arsenal and Manchester United in the coming weeks, it may not be so easy.
Rory Smith of the Times posed an answer for the Reds' poor recent injury record:
Obviously don't know specifics of Klopp's training or the #LFC injuries, but as a rule, any change in routine makes players more vulnerable.— Rory Smith (@RorySmithTimes) January 5, 2016
Indeed, not only have Liverpool’s players been challenged by a different regiment and training methods, the workload is higher too.
According to Sky Sports News HQ, the team is running an average of 113.4 kilometres a game and making a collective 548 sprints under Klopp compared with 107.8 kilometres and 474 sprints under his predecessor Brendan Rodgers.
Any players who do get drafted in midseason will need to be accustomed to this bespoke playing style.
Schalke’s centre-back Joel Matip could possibly be a player who fits the bill, with Paul Vinnell of Sky Sports noting the Reds are interesting in striking a January deal for the defender, who is out of contract in the summer.
Bleacher Report’s Karl Matchett thinks Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann, a known Liverpool supporter and steady Premier League operator, may also be a decent capture:
Genuine q - would anyone take Scott Dann for #LFC this window? As have seen his name mentioned previously...— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) January 5, 2016
Either way, the prospect of so many games in the weeks to come will be daunting for the Liverpool manager given the recent decimation of his squad. And although Stoke didn’t, savvier opposition teams will surely seek to expose the holes in the team.
Klopp will not want to address any longstanding issues with this team in January, as it’s not the market for making critical signings.
But their back four could potentially be a mish-mash of options come Friday night’s clash with Exeter City in the FA Cup, meaning a loan or a short-term deal will surely surface before the transfer window closes.