Liverpool lucky with availability of centre-backs this season – Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool must be “lucky” with the availability of their centre-backs this season as he hinted he was unlikely to add to his options before the transfer deadline.

Ibrahima Konate is a doubt for Sunday afternoon’s trip to Newcastle because of a muscular problem and Joe Gomez or Joel Matip could instead partner Virgil Van Dijk at the heart of the Reds’ defence.

Nat Phillips is another alternative but Klopp is well aware that a shortage of options and a spate of injuries could spell trouble as he had to get creative with his backline during the 2020-2021 season.

Ibrahima Konate will be assessed ahead of Liverpool's fixture against Newcastle (Mike Egerton/PA)
Ibrahima Konate will be assessed ahead of Liverpool’s fixture against Newcastle (Mike Egerton/PA)

A total of 20 different combinations were used during the turbulent campaign and Klopp is keeping everything crossed that he does not have to deal with a defensive crisis in the forthcoming months.

“In an ideal world, we have six, seven, eight centre-halves and cover for absolutely everything,” the Liverpool manager said. “No, we need to be lucky with injuries, there is no doubt about that.

“I have no doubt about the quality of the boys we have. We have (academy player) Jarell Quansah, a super-talented player, available as well.

“In this moment we are covered but it is not dreamland where you can be prepared for absolutely each situation. We had to learn that in the past as well a couple of times.

Jurgen Klopp, right, has a great amount of respect for Newcastle boss Eddie Howe (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Jurgen Klopp (right) has a great amount of respect for Newcastle boss Eddie Howe (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“We will try to do our absolute best to have a squad for next week, a squad for us where we can react on pretty much everything. Is that possible? We will see.”

Liverpool were the only side to do the double over a Newcastle side that lost just five times in the Premier League and qualified for the Champions League last season.

Despite their rapid improvement under Eddie Howe, Newcastle are on a 13-match winless sequence against Liverpool stretching back to December 2015 – although Klopp is wary of what they will face this weekend.

He feels two of their signings in particular this summer were among the shrewdest of any team.

“Newcastle are an incredibly strong team, qualified for the Champions League, fully deserved,” Klopp said. “Super development under Eddie Howe, I have to say. Eddie is a super coach, a super manager.

“Smart business. I don’t want to miss anybody but probably the two standouts in this window: (Sandro) Tonali and (Harvey) Barnes. Really good business.

“The speed they have is really good. Newcastle, since last year at least, they don’t concede a lot but score. So that’s a proper game.”

While Thiago Alcantara and Curtis Jones are missing once again, Klopp will be able to call upon fellow midfielder Alexis Mac Allister after his red card in the 3-1 win over Bournemouth was overturned.

Mac Allister – signed from Brighton in the summer for £35million – was shown a straight red by referee Thomas Bramall after catching Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Christie on the foot at Anfield last weekend.

Alexis Mac Allister is available this weekend after last week's red card was overturned (Peter Byrne/PA)
Alexis Mac Allister is available this weekend after last week’s red card was overturned (Peter Byrne/PA)

“When I saw the pictures back I was pretty sure that it’s not a red card but that doesn’t mean then immediately that our appeal will be successful,” Klopp added.

“You don’t have that a lot of times, that pretty much everybody agrees this is not a red card and should not be a red card. Harsh tackles should always be punished, I absolutely support that 100 per cent.

“But it was not a harsh tackle, it was just a touch in the situation. It was a massive relief when I heard that it is overturned. Very good news.”