Liverpool have ‘another James Milner’ who Reds cannot afford to lose to injury | Football | Sport

Estimated read time 4 min read


Joe Gomez is having an underrated season. While Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool fanbase have sung the defender’s praises, he has not received significant recognition outside of Merseyside despite his contributions. Considering his performance levels in several different positions this term, he should arguably be back in the England conversation for Euro 2024.

For now, though, he is concentrated on his Liverpool duties. This season has seen him deployed at centre-back, left-back and right-back. Only four of his 32 matches have seen him used as a centre-half, his natural position and where he helped the Reds to win the Premier League title in 2019-20.

He most recently deputised for Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas at left-back while both left-footers were simultaneously sidelined. He has also come on at right-back multiple times to ease the load on Trent Alexander-Arnold, starting in the vice-captain’s place in several Europa League and Carabao Cup games.

And it is on the right-hand side where Klopp’s new James Milner – who was also known by the Mr Versatile moniker – will be called upon again in the coming weeks. Alexander-Arnold has damaged his knee ligaments and stands to miss a minimum of three games. He could miss several more with the timescale on his recovery not yet fixed.

Conor Bradley returned to training this week after grieving the death of his father and his form prior to his absence means he should be the first-choice right-back while Alexander-Arnold is out. But Liverpool have a hectic schedule between now and the March international break.

Alexander-Arnold is said to be hopeful of returning in time for England’s friendlies with Brazil and Belgium on March 23 and 26 respectively. Before then, the Reds face Brentford and Luton in the Premier League before next Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.

Three days after that, Southampton visit Anfield for the midweek fifth round of the FA Cup. Liverpool begin March with a trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday 2nd and their Europa League knock-out stage campaign begins the Thursday after. A vital clash with title rivals Manchester City awaits at Anfield on the 10th.

After that will come the return European fixture at Anfield, on Thursday 14th, before the Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park on March 17. That match will be rescheduled if Klopp’s charges progress in the FA Cup, with the quarter-finals scheduled for that weekend. That means Liverpool face nine matches in 29 days – an average of a game every 3.2 days.

Gomez will continue to be absolutely vital as the only other fit natural right-back after Bradley. The 26-year-old, capped 11 times by England, has had plenty of injury misfortune during his nine years at Anfield and has missed over 100 games due to fitness problems.

But Liverpool desperately need Gomez to stay fit for the next 30 days at least. He can expect multiple starts at right-back in that time, and should also get a game here and there at centre-back, at least in the cups. Klopp admitted the versatile defender has been a “lifesaver” this season.

He said in mid-January: “Without Joey, nothing would have happened in the last, pretty much 13 or 14 weeks since Robbo was out. People forget how important Joey was in the best years we had, when we became champions and when we won the Champions League. He’s a top-class player.”

Now Liverpool may need Gomez to help keep the air in the lungs of their title charge, wherever he’s tasked with playing. Bradley cannot do it alone and if he can produce the form he’s managed at left-back, Gomez can help to keep his team fighting on all fronts.



Source link

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours