Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Jordan Henderson’s experience and personality make him an obvious candidate to fill his problem centre-back position.
New injuries to Fabinho and Joel Matip mean the Reds boss now has four senior players – including long-term absentees Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez – unavailable to play in central defence.
While he also has Nat Phillips and 19-year-old Rhys Williams, one of whom will have to play against West Ham on Sunday, to call on Klopp requires a leader at the back and his captain fits the bill.
.@LFC manager Jurgen Klopp on the qualities @JHenderson – excellent against Tottenham – brings to the centre-back role. Plus, how he is not worried about Nat Phillips & @rhyswilliams01 but wants them to play with a senior partner pic.twitter.com/Li7P1hOPA6
— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) January 29, 2021
“First and foremost, that’s experience,” said the manager of how well Henderson has slotted into the role for three matches this month, conceding two goals in that time.
“We don’t worry about Nat and Rhys but it’s about the situation. If they play with Joel Matip or Joe Gomez or Virgil Van Dijk it’s absolutely no problem – it’s clear who organises the line and stuff like this.
“But with young players it must always be in the 100 per cent right moment. Hendo plays there because he can do it and because he can help us there and you saw around the first goal (against Tottenham), stepping in and chipping the pass, that’s what you want to see as well.
“That he can defend in the position is clear, that he has to adapt and to learn the position is clear as well.
“But it’s the personality we need, the experience we need and it’s the football we need from the position so that is about the decision with Hendo.
“The whole season is the problem, that we had so many different centre-half pairings – that’s more the problem than the (actual) centre-half pairing.
“We try to be as consistent as possible usually because you have two or three days (between games) and now changing it completely is not really helpful as well.”
Liverpool ended an eight-hour Premier League goal drought in Thursday’s 3-1 victory over Tottenham.
In London Sadio Mane scored his first league goal in five matches, Roberto Firmino his first in six, while out-of-form defender Trent Alexander-Arnold scored his first of the season.
Klopp hopes it will be the confidence boost the players need to pick up their form.
“The right people scored the goals in the last two games, let me say it like this. It helps really,” said Klopp (Mohamed Salah scored twice in last weekend’s FA Cup defeat to Manchester United).
“Trent set a goal up and scored one himself, so was really helpful as well.
“We speak a lot about it and spoke a lot about the scoring record in recent times.
“We knew it, we tried to change it and we could change it. Now let’s try to build on it.”