Gomez suffers injury on England duty as Liverpool defensive crisis worsens

Joe Gomez Liverpool 2020-21Getty

Liverpool’s defensive crisis has deepened after Joe Gomez suffered an injury on international duty with England.

The centre-back went down during a training session at St George’s Park on Wednesday, with fears the 23-year-old could now face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

"England have announced Joe Gomez has withdrawn from the squad for their forthcoming internationals after sustaining a knee injury in training. ," Liverpool confirmed.

"The defender will undergo further diagnosis on the issue with our medical team."

“I can’t tell you how serious as he is yet to have scans," England manager Gareth Southgate told reporters.

"There was nobody around him when the injury happened. We all hope that it is not what it might be. It’s not a good situation. We can’t speculate on exact nature of the injury.”

Confirmation that Gomez's injury is serious would come as a body blow to Jurgen Klopp, whose options in defence are already severely limited at this early stage of the campaign.

Klopp lost Virgil van Dijk, his number one centre-back, to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament last month. Fabinho, asked to fill in for the Dutchman, then suffered a hamstring issue a week later and is yet to return to full training.

Trent Alexander-Arnold added to the problems on Sunday, limping out of the Reds’ 1-1 draw at Manchester City with a calf pull. The 21-year-old is likely to be missing for up to four weeks. 

Gomez’s injury leaves Joel Matip as Liverpool’s only fit and available senior centre-back, and the Cameroon international only recently returned himself after suffering a muscle problem against Everton. He has only completed 90 minutes on two occasions in the last 13 months.

Klopp has been encouraged by the performances of both Rhys Williams, 19, and 23-year-old Nat Phillips as emergency centre-back options, and has hinted that he would consider using captain Jordan Henderson at the back in an emergency. 

Gini Wijnaldum is another potential option, although Liverpool’s midfield options would naturally suffer as a result. The same goes with Andy Robertson, who has played at centre-half for Scotland in the past. 

Klopp, like a number of his fellow Premier League managers, has been outspoken in his belief that the authorities must do more to protect players during this most unique and demanding of seasons.

On Sunday, he joined Pep Guardiola in criticising the league’s decision not to allow five substitutes per team this season, a move which all of Europe’s other top leagues opted for.

"It's a lack of leadership," Klopp told his post-match press conference at the Etihad on Sunday. "[Premier League chief executive] Richard Masters sold it completely wrong. It's not an advantage [to be able to use five substitutes], it's a necessity. It happens in other countries, it was sold completely wrong and now you have this situation.”

Presciently, Klopp then added: "Trent will be out for England, [and] he will not be the last or only one Gareth [Southgate] will have to deal with either."

Liverpool are next in action a week on Saturday when they face league leaders Leicester at Anfield. 

Klopp will hope to have Fabinho back available for that game, though the Brazilian would need to prove his fitness at the new AXA Training Centre before being considered, as would midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who has so far been limited to just two appearances since joining from Bayern Munich. 

Thiago suffered a knee injury in the draw against Everton, and is yet to resume full training.