Jurgen Klopp has praised Joe Gomez and insisted the No. 2 will be given plenty of chances this season, particularly after a “massive blow” for Ibrahima Konate.
Given the lack of minutes for Gomez last term it came as a surprise when the 25-year-old signed a new five-year contract with Liverpool this summer.
But the Englishman has accepted the challenge in front of him as he looks to compete with Konate and Joel Matip as first-choice partner to Virgil van Dijk at centre-back.
It is ironic, then, that Gomez’s first opportunity could come due to an injury to one of his team-mates, with Konate “out for a while” after picking up an injury against Strasbourg.
Though no timeframe has been given for the Frenchman’s layoff, it seems that it will be longer than a matter of weeks, with Klopp suggesting Nat Phillips will now stay put as cover.
Either way, Gomez has a chance to avoid the “stop-and-go” campaign he endured last time out, as Klopp told reporters on Friday.
“For Joe, it’s most important that he stays fit, so that’s what we try to help him with all we can,” the manager said.
“That was the stop-and-go situation, it’s not that he was fit from first day and I didn’t pick him just for quality reasons.
“That was never the case. When he was constantly fit he played an awful lot of games.
“We all know that last year we could rotate like crazy between the three of them, and in the beginning it was Joey not fit and when he became fit it worked really well [with the others]. There are always reasons.
“If he stays fit, then everything will be fine for him. Outstanding player.
“Yes, he needs rhythm like we all need rhythm, and we try to give him that, that’s clear.”
Konate’s injury comes at an unfortunate time for Liverpool, who have seven more players on the treatment table heading into the first game of the Premier League campaign.
Caoimhin Kelleher, Calvin Ramsay, Diogo Jota and Kaide Gordon all arrived for pre-season with fitness issues, while Kostas Tsimikas, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones subsequently picked up injuries.
“The good news is that when you have a massive blow, like it is with Ibou, you need to have solutions,” Klopp added of Gomez.
“Our solution is, in the moment, the situation that we have. We are still there.
“But how I said, it’s always the same: you need to be lucky with injuries. Because we are very self-critical and think about what can we have done differently.
“But apart from the contact injuries, which can always happen, there were good reasons for [injuries] which we couldn’t influence. That’s the case for now.
“It’s all OK for the moment, but Joey committed his future to this club, so I can’t see why the next year should be so important for him to prove.
“I wanted him to stay here, he’s a top player and he will play football games for Liverpool, definitely.”