anfield crisis 'Exactly the last thing we needed' - Jurgen Klopp admits Fabinho injury is a nightmare for Liverpool
Liverpool's injury crisis moved to a new level as make-shift centre-back Fabinho limped out of the Champions League 2-0 Champions League win against Danish champions FC Midtjylland at Anfield.
Diogo Jota and substitute Mohamed Salah netted second-half goals as Liverpool beat Midtjylland 2-0 at Anfield, with Fabinho having to go off in the first half to add to their defensive injury problems.
With Vigil van Dijk likely to miss the rest of the season with knee ligament damage, Fabinho's injury is a hammer blow to Klopp and he admitted it was his worst case scenario.
"Exactly the last thing we needed," he conceeded. "I don't know, he felt his hamstring so that's not good.
"He didn't feel it that much he said he could've played on but not sprinting, so that doesn't help. We will see, we will have to do a scan and see but clearly it's not good."
Talk about winning ugly!That was ugly.6 points from 6 though👍🏻— John Aldridge (@Realaldo474) October 27, 2020
With Joel Matip also out with an injury, 19-year-old Rhys Williams had to play an hour of the game, but Liverpool still kept a clean sheet as they made it two wins out of two in the Champions League.
Klopp opted to drop Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino to the bench for the match, along with Georginio Wijnaldum, as Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, Xherdan Shaqiri and James Milner started.
With so many changes, Klopp was satisfied with the performance of his make-shift team despite the injury to Fabinho.
"It was a tough night. It's a bit like in a marriage, there are good and bad times," stated the Liverpool boss.
"It's not a bad time but it's a tricky time. 100% we have to stick together and fight harder and that's what the boys did tonight.
"Losing Fabinho in the first half, Rhys Williams he's only 19-years old and I think he's played more Champions League games than Premier League games - that's rare. We're doing really well but it's a shock for a team because now we have to sort that injury.
Klopp said of Williams: “He did really well. The only problem we have now is we have four days to the West Ham game and you will make every day a story of him and then he has to prove he can deal with that as well, because the vibe was calm around him.”
Weighing up other options from the fringes of his squad, the Anfield chief also mentioned Nathaniel Phillips and Billy Koumetio and said: “We have very young and inexperienced alternatives, and at the moment it looks like we have to choose one of them.
“I don’t know yet – but to be really clear and positive, Rhys was not in one situation tonight our problem, he played a really good game.”
"We had to make the change at half time with Jordan Henderson - he said I'm fine but in these moments you have to be responsible and the plan before the game was to give him around 45 minutes so he would be okay for West Ham. It was a hard game to play. But winning 2-0 is completely fine so that's it - let's carry on."
When he was asked whether Joel Matip could return to the squad for Saturday’s Premier League fixture with West Ham United at Anfield, Klopp added: "I don’t know, we have to see.
"Look, if it would be only one game we play, if it was the last game of the season, I think we could make probably one or the other fit for one game – but we play three days later again and we need players again.
"The players who are now injured, we cannot use them on the first day of being fit again – or not injured anymore. They need a proper build-up for the rest of the season and that’s what we try.
"It is this juggle all the time between the fit players – how much can they play still? – and when we can use the others again?
Liverpool struggled to fire in the first half, but they sparked into life as Salah and Sadio Mane were brought on and they took a lead as Xherdan Shaqiri and Trent Alexander Arnold combined to square to Jota, who had the simple task of tapping in the opener.
It was was a work of art from the Premier League champions and their win was sealed after a few scares in their defensive line as Salah sealed the three points for Liverpool, converting from the spot after referee Paweł Raczkowski judged he had been fouled by Paulinho.
"It was massive," said Jota, who scored the 10,000th goal in Liverpool's history with his opener. "After a good away win in Porto we did our job, got three points which is the most important thing.
"Everyone in the squad knows they can be important, we all need to be ready and unfortunately injuries can happen."
â° RESULTS â°— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 27, 2020
😮 Goals, comebacks and drama!
🤔 Best performance?#UCL
Elsewhere in the Champions League, Manchester City cruised to a 3-0 win against Marseille with goals from Ferran Torres, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid were starring a second straight defeat in the competition, but they came from 2-0 down to snatch a draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach with late goals from Karim Benzema and Casemiro.