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‘Loss of Fabinho the sponge is huge for Liverpool’ – Midfielder’s injury is untimely, says Kewell

17:28 GMT+3 28/11/2019
Fabinho Liverpool 2019-20
The former Reds winger admits the absence of an in-form Brazil international offers Jurgen Klopp a selection headache that he could well do without

Fabinho is the “sponge” at Liverpool that goes around “soaking everything up”, says Harry Kewell, with the Brazilian’s untimely injury considered to be a big blow for the Reds.

Jurgen Klopp saw a key component in his side forced off early on Wednesday during a Champions League clash with Napoli.

There were just 19 minutes on the clock when Fabinho exited a European stage, with his manager admitting afterwards that a fitness setback for the South American is “massive”.

Former Reds star Kewell agrees with that assessment, with Premier League title hopefuls preparing to be without a man who has grown into a holding role at Anfield to become a talismanic presence.

“It is a huge loss, he’s been the sponge,” Kewell told Sky Sports

“He’s soaking everything up. When he receives the ball, he passes it forward – which many holding midfielders don’t do, that first pass forward to put your team on the attack.

“It’s a big loss, but I’m confident in the squad that there are plenty to fill in.”

Liverpool were able to rescue a point against Napoli after losing Fabinho, but still have work to do in order to book their place in the last 16.

The holders of the Champions League crown need to avoid defeat in the final round of fixtures to progress, with Kewell saying: “Not winning it puts them in a difficult position because they are going to have to go to Salzburg and get a result.

“It’s a Champions League game so a lot of players will want to play it, but he [Klopp] could have rested a few players. He will have been prepared for the worst outcome.

“It’s good sometimes going to a game knowing that you have to get a result.”

After facing Red Bull Salzburg, Liverpool will take in one more Premier League game – at home to Watford – before embarking on a Club World Cup adventure.

There is determination within the ranks to become the first Reds side to claim that trophy, but Kewell believes Klopp may also take the opportunity to ease the burden on a squad that is seeing fixtures pile up across multiple competitions.

The Australian added: “It will be a nice little break for them.

“It’s still a competition they want to win, so they will take it seriously, but going away in the sun and two games out there, it will be a nice winter break for them.

“Klopp will know his plan, he’s not going to tell everybody, but he’ll know what he wants to do.

“Look at the way they are playing, we’re thinking are strikers going to be rested, but they are constantly playing. The players want to play.”

Before taking in a crucial continental clash with Salzburg, Liverpool face domestic games against Brighton, Everton and Bournemouth in their ongoing bid to chase down the Premier League title.