Jurgen Klopp hails Joe Gomez option after Ibrahima Konate ‘hit’ – Liverpool FC
Jurgen Klopp has praised Joe Gomez and insisted the No.2 will have plenty of chances this season, especially after a ‘tough blow’ for Ibrahima Konate.
Given Gomez’s lack of minutes last season, it came as a surprise when the 25-year-old signed a new five-year deal with Liverpool in the summer.
But the Englishman accepted the challenge before him as he looked to rival Konate and Joel Matip as Virgil van Dijk’s first-choice partner at centre-back.
It’s ironic, then, that Gomez’s first chance could come from an injury to one of his teammates, with Konaté ‘out for a while’ after picking up the injury against Strasbourg.
Although no timeframe has been given for the Frenchman’s layoff, it looks like it will take more than a few weeks, with Klopp suggesting Nat Phillips will now stay under cover.
Either way, Gomez has a chance to avoid the ‘stop-and-go’ campaign he suffered last time out, as Klopp told reporters on Friday.
“For Joe it’s very important that he stays fit, that’s why we try to help him as best we can,” the manager said.
“It was the stop-and-go situation, it’s not that he was fit from day one and I didn’t pick him just for quality reasons.
“That has never been the case. When he was constantly in good shape, he played a lot of matches.
“We all know that last year we could spin like crazy between the three of them, and at first Joey wasn’t in good shape and when he got in good shape it worked really well. [with the others]. There are always reasons.
“If he stays fit, then everything will be fine for him. Outstanding player.
“Yes, he needs rhythm like we all need rhythm, and we’re trying to give him that, that’s clear.”
Konate’s injury comes at an unfortunate time for Liverpool, who have seven other players on the treatment table ahead of the first game of the Premier League campaign.
Caoimhin Kelleher, Calvin Ramsay, Diogo Jota and Kaide Gordon all arrived for pre-season with fitness issues, while Kostas Tsimikas, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones subsequently suffered injuries.
“The good news is that when you have a hard knock, as is the case with Ibou, you have to have solutions,” Klopp added of Gomez.
“Our solution is, for now, the situation we have. We are always here.
“But like I said, it’s always the same: you have to be lucky with injuries. Because we are very self-critical and reflect on what we could have done differently.
“But aside from contact injuries, which can always happen, there were good reasons for [injuries] that we could not influence. This is the case for now.
“Everything is fine at the moment, but Joey has committed his future to this club, so I don’t see why next year should be so important for him to prove.
“I wanted him to stay here, he is a top player and he will definitely play football for Liverpool.”