They have battled a lengthy injury list this term, and have centre-backs Joe Gomez, Van Dijk and Matip all on the sidelines. With Fabinho also out injured — the midfielder has filled in at the back for Liverpool since Van Dijk’s ACL injury against Everton in October — Liverpool reinforced their defence on transfer deadline day with Ben Davies from Preston and Ozan Kabak from Schalke both joining.
Klopp said they needed these additions because he felt they were one further injury away from not knowing where to turn within the club for back up. Van Dijk is regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world, but although he is making good progress on the knee injury he sustained last year, Klopp has played down hopes of seeing him again this season despite reports at the weekend he had a chance of returning by April.
When asked if Van Dijk would feature on Liverpool’s next submitted Premier League squad for this term, Klopp said: “If we have space for him, then Virgil will be on the list. No doctor told me there’s a chance for Virgil to play again this season. I don’t want to say it’s impossible but it’s not likely.
“If there is no space [on the list] we have to make a decision. If he is on the list it is only because we hope for a miracle, that is it.”
Matip picked up an ankle injury against Tottenham last month and was ruled out for the rest of the season on Monday evening.
“I don’t have the right words of it,” Klopp said of Matip’s injury. “The things that have happened to the boys is incredible… it’s a big, big blow for all of us. You don’t just lose a player on the pitch for those months, you lose the player in the dressing room for a while.
“It’s really harsh and unlucky. His challenge with [Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min] was a good challenge, and he played on — [but] while we were strapping him, the ankle blew up. It’s not good — nothing good to say about it — but we have a timeframe and he’ll be back for preseason and he has enough time to let things settle and enough time to work on specific things to make him stronger for the future.”
Klopp said new signings Davies and Kabak will have to hit the ground running at Liverpool but played up the opportunity they have to impress at the Premier League champions.
“I’m a big fan of chances and opportunities — this is a chance for the club and for the boys,” Klopp said. “That’s great, now let’s go for it. Whatever they’ve done is good enough for us to want them — now we expect more.”
Liverpool welcome Brighton to Anfield on Wednesday evening, but Klopp said the likelihood of Davies and Kabak both starting at the heart of Liverpool’s defence was low.
“We have to be smart and quick — but we play differently to Preston and Schalke,” he added. “They’ll need time, but we don’t have a lot of time — we use the time on our hands and try our best. If they had to start tomorrow night, that wouldn’t be too cool – but we’ll give them a couple more days.”