Jurgen Klopp has paid tribute to Nathaniel Clyne for his superb response to his difficult start to the season with Liverpool.
The right-back made just his first Premier League start of the campaign on Sunday as the Reds beat Manchester United 3-1 at Anfield.
His only previous appearance this term arrived in September’s League Cup defeat to Chelsea, with the Englishman having since struggled with injury.
Clyne proved to be a surprise inclusion at the weekend as Klopp reshuffled his team in light of an ankle issue for first choice Trent Alexander-Arnold and a fractured leg for backup Joe Gomez. James Milner had been tipped to slot into the full-back role on the basis of his versatility, but was subsequently ruled out due to a muscle problem.
Despite his lack of playing time, Clyne managed an assured and rather trouble-free 90 minutes.
Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “He trained most of the time without any complaints. In the last two to two-and-a-half weeks he had a couple of problems, but he’s available now. He’s fine.”
“Mid-December, first [league] game of the season after an injury and a difficult period, not playing even if you are fit. What a game.”
Clyne could now play a key role across the festive period as Klopp looks to maintain plans to preserve his squad’s fitness with regular rotation.
The 27-year-old has now put himself in firm contention to retain his starting spot when Liverpool look to extend their unbeaten run away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday.
Milner’s return will meanwhile give the Reds another viable option in defence on the back of his impressive display there during the recent 4-0 win over Bournemouth.
Though Fabinho has plenty of experience at right-back, it seems unlikely the Brazilian will be shifted amid his superb form in midfield.