Nathaniel Clyne will not play again in 2017, Jurgen Klopp today told Liverpool supporters.
The defender, who picked up an issue at the beginning of pre-season, is bizarrely going to miss four more months, even though we were initially told his problem would be fixed in a couple of days.
Clyne’s got an unspecified back injury which is more ambiguous because the club has relayed very little information about it to supporters.
Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “Nathaniel is working hard on his rehab and we have kept a close eye on his progress, but the reality is we are looking at some time still before he is back and available for selection. I am told it will be longer than just a couple of weeks, so we will continue to monitor and assess.
“It is pretty certain he’ll not be available for the majority of the Champions League group matches. If we are fortunate enough to still be in UEFA competition in the New Year he could be added to the squad then.
“The medical guys are pleased with how he is responding and Nathaniel has shown a really strong attitude, given he is not someone who is used to being out injured.
“What is positive for us is how Joe [Gomez] and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] have stepped up and grasped their opportunities.”
As Klopp mentions, we’re now going into an intense fixture schedule with Trent Alexander-Arnold (18) and Joe Gomez (20) fighting it out for the starting spot.
The former is faster and more dangerous going forward, but Gomez has slightly more experience and we’d trust him more in bigger games against sides who target the position as a weakness. In reserve to those two, we still have the very much forgotten Jon Flanagan, who still has two years on his contract.
Now is the time for one of this trio to prove we can live without Clyne. With Alberto Moreno and Andrew Robertson competing for game-time at left-back, Liverpool do not have options we’d consider 100% reliable in the fullback positions at the moment.
But James Milner can cover both right-back and left-back and we’d be surprised if he didn’t feature in one of these roles at some stage before Christmas.