'He can do it': Klopp explains tactical decision that has baffled some Liverpool fans

Sam Brookes January 29, 2021
'He can do it': Klopp explains tactical decision that has baffled some Liverpool fans
Photo by JON SUPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp has claimed “experience” is the key reason he has opted to play Jordan Henderson in central defence in recent games, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.

With first-choice pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez ruled out with long-term injuries, Klopp has handed opportunities to youngsters Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips.

However, he turned to his captain to play an unfamiliar role in recent weeks. Henderson’s last three starts have all come at centre-back.

Explaining his logic, Klopp highlighted one key advantage Henderson has over Williams and Phillips ahead of this weekend’s trip to West Ham United.

“Experience. We don’t worry about Nat or Rhys. If they play with Van Dijk, Gomez or Matip it is clear who takes responsibility. Hendo plays there because he can do it.”

Henderson milestone

Henderson has filled in admirably and, should he play this weekend, he will move above Pepe Reina as Liverpool’s fourth-highest appearance maker in the Premier League.

And Klopp expects Henderson to go one better before his time at Anfield is up.

Photo by Paul Greenwood – CameraSport via Getty Images

“He’ll catch Sami (Hyypia) then (in third),” he added.

Injury curse

Despite his assured displays in defence this month, Liverpool fans continue to debate whether Henderson’s absence from midfield is hurting the side.

Fears grew the skipper would be forced to continue in defence after Joel Matip suffered yet another, potentially serious, injury last night.

Makeshift defender Fabinho is also sidelined, meaning Henderson is likely to deputise at the heart of the defence again on Sunday.

Will Liverpool sign a defender?

Liverpool have appeared reluctant to bring in a defender this month. However, Klopp insisted the club was looking for additions before Monday’s 11pm deadline to ease their defensive crisis.

He said: “The situation yesterday (Matip’s injury) didn’t make it easier but we are trying to do the right things. If it’s possible, we will do it.”

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Sam Brookes is an aspiring sports journalist with a background in football analysis. He has written for a number of online publications in recent years, and specialises in English and Italian football.