Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis has seemingly gone from bad to worse with Joel Matip substituted at half-time against Tottenham – after Fabinho was ruled out of the squad entirely.
Though no injury was obvious in the first half, Matip was replaced by Nat Phillips, making only his fourth appearance in the Premier League. Phillips joined midfielder Jordan Henderson at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
Matip had only recently returned to fitness for Liverpool after three weeks out with a groin injury. He played 90 minutes in the surprise 1-0 defeat to Burnley but did not feature in the FA Cup exit to Manchester United in midweek.
Liverpool came out for the second half 1-0 up after Roberto Firmino’s goal on the stroke of half-time, and soon doubled their lead through Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg pulled a goal back almost immediately with a stunning strike from the edge of the box, with the substitute Phillips then earning a yellow card inside five minutes of his introduction for a foul on Steven Bergwijn.
Fabinho's injury was described as 'a minor muscle issue' when Liverpool announced their squad before the game, and Jurgen Klopp seemed to suggest it was not a serious problem.
"That’s our situation at the moment," Klopp told BT Sport . "Actually, it was nothing really. He just felt something and we had to take him out and now he’s out. It was not a challenge or an intense situation or whatever, it was just how things happen."
Klopp will be desperate to have Fabinho and Matip at his disposal for a run of fixtures, which could make or break their season.
Just three days after the Spurs game, Liverpool head across London to face an in-form West Ham side who started Thursday a point ahead of them in fourth place.
A home fixture with Brighton follows before a string of high-stakes games against Manchester City, Leicester, RB Leipzig and Everton.
Henderson has been standing in at the centre of defence with Phillips and the youngster Rhys Williams having helped plug the gap at the back in recent weeks.
Klopp has been encouraged by Virgil van Dijk's progress in his recovery but the Dutchman isn't expected to return in the near future.