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Klopp tips Liverpool youngsters to ‘smell their chance’ in defence crisis

Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, says his youngsters can “smell the opportunity” to solve the club’s injury crisis as he prepares for one of the most challenging periods of his management career.

Three of his usual back four – Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold – will be absent against Leicester City on Sunday.

Captain Jordan Henderson is also out, Mohamed Salah has Covid-19, and, as of Friday, Thiago Alcantara had still not joined full training.

Fabinho is back with the full squad, however, improving his chances of an imminent return.

Despite the expectation, Klopp will be forced into the transfer market to cover the long-term absence of Van Dijk and Gomez, the Liverpool manager said Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams had demonstrated they could step up.

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Asked about January deals, Klopp said: “We will see. If we can do something in January, I have no idea. If we want to do something in January, I have no idea.

“I don’t want to compare situations but when I came to Dortmund in 2008 my two centre-halves were 19 and turned 20 that winter, and we played with them for that entire time. Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic. We have talent here. They are young – 18, 19, 23 – and we have more experienced players, so we will see.”

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