Virgil van Dijk is facing up to the prospect of not playing again this season after suffering ACL damage against Everton.
Van Dijk is facing surgery and a battle to return this campaign after being injured in a challenge by Jordan Pickford in Saturday’s dramatic Merseyside derby.
The loss of the imperious Dutchman leaves Jurgen Klopp in need of a rethink as he aims to cope without his star defender over the coming months.
But Van Dijk has already highlighted “outstanding” team-mate Fabinho as a player more than capable of stepping into the defence.
Fabinho stepped into the role alongside Van Dijk in their clash with Chelsea at the start of the season, keeping big-money signing Timo Werner quiet.
And Van Dijk was full of praise for the Brazilian after the game as he made it clear to Klopp he rates him as a centre-back.
“Outstanding,” Van Dijk said of Fabinho’s display against Chelsea.
“I just told him as well I think he was Man of the Match. To keep out a striker like [Timo] Werner and don’t let him score, overall he was outstanding.
“Everyone knows how good he is but it shows also that we need everyone. We are a bit unlucky with the injuries now but we’ll need everyone back because it’s such a long season.”
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Liverpool got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds.
In terms of transfers the Reds have completed the signing of Thiago Alcantara and Wolves’ Diogo Jota has arrived too, in a shock deal worth a potential £45million.
Youngster Ki-Jana Hoever is set to head to Wolves in a £10million deal, while Gini Wijnaldum continues to be linked with Barcelona. There’s a lot to keep track of.
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Fabinho previously stepped in for Van Dijk when he was suspended for a Champions League clash with Bayern Munich last February.
After a 0-0 draw, Klopp highlighted how they were able to cope without Van Dijk with Fabinho in his place.
Asked how important the return of Van Dijk was after suspension last February, Klopp said: When asked how important it was to have Van Dijk back, Klopp said: “Very. Like he always is.
“But the most important thing is that we didn’t miss him as much as a lot of people expected us to because we defend as a unit.
“Of course it is really good to have him back. It is the first time in weeks that we have to make a choice between midfielders, full-backs and even centre-backs if you think about Fabinho.
“It is great to have him [Fabinho] as an option for both positions. His natural position is in midfield but because he can play at centre-half it makes him an unbelievably valuable player for us.”