Liverpool coach hints at no January centre-half signing as Reds favour a different approach

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Pep Lijnders has suggested that the Premier League champions will continue to show faith in home-grown talent, rather than spend on the market

Liverpool coach Pep Lijnders has hinted that the club will resist any urge to dip into the January transfer market for another centre-half, despite Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez being injured.

The Reds have endured a torrid run on the fitness front this season, with key men picking up untimely knocks at regular intervals.

Jurgen Klopp’s ranks have been most severely depleted at the heart of his back four, with two international performers being forced to undergo knee surgery.

Both could return by the end of the campaign, but there are long roads to recovery to be trodden before then.

With Van Dijk and Gomez being ruled out long term, many have suggested that Liverpool should be looking to snap up the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly or Dayot Upamecano when the next window opens.

Lijnders, though, is not convinced that spending again is the answer, with the reigning Premier League champions prepared to keep faith with home-grown talent.

“I think the individual is very important, but I think what separates us from other teams and what I feel is really different is we have a strong culture and we have a clear identity of play, and that even with losing individuals we stay focused on this collective idea,” Lijnders, who works as Klopp’s assistant at Anfield, told the Reds’ official website when quizzed on injuries and recruitment.

“There’s a saying that without good players there’s no collective, but without a collective there will never be success. If you stay focused on improving our way of play, encouraging each individual to take more initiative, to attack more, to evolve the team, then I feel that there is not a back-up plan, it’s focusing on our way and our idea.

“It’s always like this but some devastating moments create life-changing moments for other players because we have so much faith in our young blood, in the players we brought up, our own players.

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“These moments where you lose a top, top player automatically creates a big chance for a young player, because we invest a lot of time and we have a big commitment to them to be part of our squad.

“What I’m trying to say is: I feel really the best back-up plan is the academy. If the academy is right and there’s a fluid process between the academy and the first team, the best back-up plan is always young players because they never let you down – never, never.”

Liverpool have given minutes to Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams this season, with both faring admirably when called upon, while versatile Brazil international Fabinho remains an option to step in at centre-half when required.