Jurgen Klopp hopes he has finally found a centre-back partnership he can rely on in Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips after successive clean sheets for the pair amid a season of injury woes for Liverpool’s defenders
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes he has finally found a centre-back partnership he can rely on to see him through the remainder of the season.
The on-loan Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips, who only made his Premier League debut in October at the age of 23, have kept clean sheets in the two matches they have started together.
One was against bottom side Sheffield United but more impressive was the midweek Champions League performance against RB Leipzig, currently second in the Bundesliga.
Jurgen Klopp hopes the centre-back pairing of Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips will see out season
With Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all-but ruled out for the remainder of the season, Klopp is keen to keep this pair together for as long as possible, not least because it allows Fabinho to return to his preferred central midfield position where he is far more effective.
However, Klopp does not want the pair to think they are on trial to be a longer-term solution for cover next season.
‘There is no test now, or whatever. It’s not a testing period about a long-term future or whatever. We will see,’ he said ahead of Monday’s trip to Wolves.
‘I hope they will stay fit, but I cannot sit here and give guarantees for these kind of things.
Klopp hopes the pairing can provide some consistency for his struggling Reds team
‘It looked good, and if they are physically ready to go again, which I hope, then why should I change it?
‘We want to have consistency, and we never had that. Hopefully they can play a lot of games if not all of them.
‘If not we have to find solutions. Rhys Williams, I don’t want to forget him, he’s in a good moment.’
Ben Davies was Liverpool’s other deadline-day signing after Kabak as the club sought to solve their centre-back crisis but he has yet to make an appearance.
Klopp is content for him to settle into the squad without any pressure.
‘Ben Davies had to adapt, that was always clear,’ Klopp added.
The pair have recorded clean sheets in the two matches they have started together
Klopp said new signing Ben Davies has needed time to adapt to step up from Championship
‘A lot of players came here to Liverpool and maybe the most famous example is Andy Robertson who took half a year to settle in in a normal season, where pretty much everything else was kind of settled.
‘He’s a really good player but he has to get used to all the stuff here. That’s how it is. We have options, and hopefully it will stay like this.’
Asked whether it would be more realistic to consider Davies for next season now, Klopp said: ‘I don’t make these kind of judgements.
‘I don’t tell Ben now he just has to train until the middle of May and then we will take it further. It will take as long as it takes.
The Reds boss also praised youngster Rhys Williams for his recent displays at the back
‘It was clear we would not start with two new centre-halves if we don’t have to, because of the situation.
‘It’s really important that the boys in the last line are used to each other, and the more games they can play together the better.
‘That’s why we have figured a bit here and there and tried to make it as consistent as possible – but a lot of things disturbed that process. Ben will play when he plays. That’s how it is.’