Glen Johnson has suggested that Liverpool may find it hard to sign new defenders this month as the club looks to alleviate its current injury crisis at the back. The Reds are set to be without regular starters Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez until the end of the season after both players suffered long-term knee injuries earlier on in the campaign.
Jurgen Klopp has been forced to fill round holes with square pegs in the absence of the pair, with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho emerging as the first-choice centre-back partnership in recent months.
Both players have impressed since taking up the role, earning their latest clean sheet against league leaders Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday.
Johnson, who played 200 times for the Reds during a six-year spell with the club, believes that Klopp needs to add reinforcements this month but has claimed that this may be difficult amid the current circumstances at the club.
The former defender told Sky Sports that Liverpool could struggle to land a quality defender as the new recruit would likely be pushed down the pecking order once Van Dijk and Gomez are passed fit.
“It’s a tough one,” said Johnson. “Obviously Hendo and Fabinho are fantastic players and they’ve proved that they can do a job there at centre-half.
“The problem is with Liverpool, if they tried to sign someone, whoever comes through the door is going to know they are going to be third, fourth, or maybe even fifth choice in eight months’ time.
“So I don’t know what player on the top of his game is going to want to do that.”
Johnson continued, suggesting that Liverpool could benefit from utilising the loan market to provide some much-needed cover in central defence.
“Possibly a loan, maybe, maybe somebody knowing that they’re only going to come in until the end of the season,” he added.
“That’s probably a more likely option, but do they need some more bodies? Yes, definitely.”
Klopp previously admitted that he was unsure if the club would be able to sign a new defender this month.
“We will see,” the charismatic German boss told reporters in November.
“I don’t know what we can do in January, I have no idea. We can look for solutions from outside, that’s clear. But at the moment, we have the situation we have.
“I don’t want to compare situations, but I came to Dortmund in 2008 and my two centre-halves were 19 and 20 that winter, [Mats] Hummels and [Neven] Subotic, and we played with them for pretty much the entire time.
“We have talent here. They are young, 18, 19, 23, and we have more experienced players.”
Liverpool have been tipped to sign a number of central defenders in recent weeks.
Kalidou Koulibaly and Dayot Upamecano are two long-term links, while a handful of young players including Strasbourg’s Mohamed Simakan and Koulibaly’s Napoli team-mate Nikola Maksimovic have also been mentioned in connection with the Reds.
It remains to be seen whether Liverpool will be able to complete any deals before the transfer window slams shut in just under two weeks.