Liverpool need to be taking a tough stance with Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho during their injury crisis, says John Barnes, with the Reds legend calling on fully fit stars to ignore those stuck on the treatment table.
Back in the 1980s, when those at Anfield were the team to beat in English football, focus was forever locked on the present and future. Those who were unable to help out on the field were cast out of sight and mind until such time as they were ready to come back into contention.
Barnes wants to see a similar mindset adopted in the present, with Jurgen Klopp seeing an untimely run of knocks leave him seriously depleted in defence.
The Reds icon told BonusCodeBets with Joel Matip and Fabinho having joined cruciate knee ligament victim Van Dijk on the sidelines: “Losing a player like Virgil van Dijk is a huge loss for Liverpool but it depends on how much the team focuses on losing him for this season.
“If they spend too much time thinking about playing without him, then it will naturally become a negative factor.
“I remember when I was playing, whenever big players got injured it was always the Liverpool philosophy that the team is the most important thing, which is something that Jurgen Klopp has brought back.
“If a big player got injured, no matter who they were, the staff didn’t even speak to him, which may sound cruel but that’s just how it was.
“I say this with love and with affection for all the staff, at Liverpool the whole philosophy was no matter who you are, if you're injured then you can't help the team to win the game on Saturday so they don't focus on you at all.
“I found it so strange when I first went to Liverpool because I remember my first injury and I'm doing really well and all of a sudden, they do not talk to you.
“This must be the attitude that the club takes with Van Dijk. If they focus too much on his injury, it can affect the players and it will become a big deal that he isn’t playing. We of course miss him and rate him very highly, but he’s not around and we need to deal with that.”
Liverpool have found a way of countering the fitness blows, with three successive victories collected since Van Dijk was forced out early on in a Merseyside derby date with Everton on October 17.
Barnes is not convinced that Klopp has to dip into the January transfer market for reinforcements, but the setbacks suffered by Matip and Fabinho may force his hand.
“It is too early to say whether Liverpool should look to bring in a new centre-back in the January transfer window as it has only been three games without Virgil van Dijk and the team hasn’t lost yet,” Barnes added.
“If it comes to January and the team hasn’t conceded many goals and has won every game, then we won’t need to bring in a new defender. We will have to see how Liverpool get on before jumping to conclusions that we need a new centre half.”
Liverpool will be back in Premier League action on Saturday when they take on West Ham.