Joel Matip forced off injured as Liverpool defender crisis takes turn for worse

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Joel Matip was forced off with an injury in Liverpool’s clash with Tottenham on Thursday night, adding to Jurgen Klopp’s defensive woes this season.

Klopp has been dealt a crisis at the back in the 2020/21 campaign, losing both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to serious knee injuries which look likely to keep them out of action until the summer.

Matip has also suffered with his own fitness problems throughout the season, meaning Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have been forced to deputise at centre-back on a number of occasions.

Fabinho appeared set to start alongside Matip against Spurs, only to sustain a minor muscle issue ahead of the game.

Henderson therefore filled in as a makeshift centre-half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with the England midfielder and Matip successfully keeping Jose Mourinho’s men at bay in the first half.

However, at the half-time interval the latter was taken off with an undisclosed injury, giving Klopp another defensive problem to contend with on Merseyside.

Fortunately his absence has not cost Liverpool so far in the second half, as Trent Alexander-Arnold doubled their lead two minutes after the restart.

Roberto Firmino had initially given them liftoff right on the stroke of half-time, tapping home from close range to break the deadlock in north London.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg pulled one back for Spurs in the 49th minute, but 16 minutes later Sadio Mane capitalised on some sloppy defending from Joe Rodon to restore the visitors’ two-goal advantage.

If Matip and Fabinho are ruled out for a long period of time, Klopp may be tempted to dip into the January transfer market before Monday’s deadline.

Youngsters Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips will be the only natural centre-backs available for Liverpool, meaning Henderson would likely have to continue in his role as a makeshift defender should they decide against making a signing.

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RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly have been touted as potential targets, while Brighton’s Ben White is believed to be of interest.

Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, who is out of contract in the summer, is also understood to be on their radar.

  • Liverpool FC

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