Soccer

‘He will play where it is best for us’ – Jurgen Klopp on Trent Alexander-Arnold

Jurgen Klopp, left, has been talking about Trent Alexander-Arnold (Peter Byrne/PA)
Jurgen Klopp, left, has been talking about Trent Alexander-Arnold (Peter Byrne/PA) Jurgen Klopp, left, has been talking about Trent Alexander-Arnold (Peter Byrne/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is not prepared to reassign Trent Alexander-Arnold as a midfielder and stressed he will continue to use his vice-captain as best befits his side.

The 25-year-old was hugely influential in Sunday’s dramatic late comeback to beat Fulham 4-3, stepping into the number six position for the final 30 minutes and scoring the 88th-minute winner.

Alexander-Arnold’s development from an attacking right-back criticised for his defensive short-comings to a hybrid role continues on an upward curve since it was first implemented in April.

But it has progressed this season with him deployed as a genuine holding midfielder against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup, again for half-an-hour in the second half.

There is a growing debate about how the creative abilities of the England international, whom national boss Gareth Southgate now seems to consider a midfielder in his set-up, could be used more permanently in central midfield.

Klopp, however, has no intention of listening to that.

“I’m not stubborn and don’t want to play him midfield, not at all, but I am not part of the discussion,” he said.

“You can discuss it as much as you want but it will not have any influence.

“We still have to make decisions on what is best for the team and Trent sees it exactly the same way.

“He wants to play and from my point of view he has to be influential and we have to make sure we help him with the positioning.

“He became one of the most successful players in the history of Liverpool, in the recent history, playing as a right-back. He became a Premier League player as a right-back. He can play more inside definitely.

“He will play where it is best for us. What do we have available? Is Joey (Joe Gomez) there, is Conor (Bradley) there? If they both are there do we have to play one of them at left-back because Kostas (Tsimikas) cannot play all the games?

“Yes, Trent can play midfield but we always knew that Trent can play the role we gave him now very well as well.

Caoimhin Kelleher is set to start again
Caoimhin Kelleher is set to start again Caoimhin Kelleher is set to start again (Martin Rickett/PA)

“If you want to be good he has to be influential from all different areas because it just makes us better if he plays a good game.”

Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher is set to start back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time – he last played two games in a row in January 2022 but they were in different competitions – at Sheffield United on Wednesday as he continues to deputise for the injured Alisson Becker.

He endured a difficult afternoon against the Cottagers, beaten at close range with their first two goals, but Klopp’s faith is unwavering in the 25-year-old he labelled the “best number two in the world” after his performance in the 2022 Carabao Cup final victory.

“I really think he played a really good game. In possession he was good, especially with his feet,” added the Liverpool boss.

“But then we concede two goals and the Harry Wilson one is an unlucky one as a goalie, if the ball goes through legs, it goes through the legs.

“It has nothing to do with quality, it’s a philosophy thing and he could have saved that ball (for the second goal) as well with the same movement just a little bit more luck.

“We need him to be there, offensive, and get off his line (at Bramall Lane). Besides that, absolutely fine with everything.”

While the club await scans on the extent of Joel Matip’s knee injury, which Klopp said “doesn’t look good”, there was more positive news on forward Diogo Jota, injured at Manchester City 10 days ago.

“He was running yesterday outside and everything goes in the right direction, but nobody told me he will be back in team training. There is still some time,” said Klopp.