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Klopp: 'Exceptional' Gomez can play 'sensationally' with Van Dijk

The 22-year-old has missed almost a year with a serious injury, but he’s back in the team on merit says his coach.

Joe Gomez (file pic).
Joe Gomez (file pic).

JURGEN KLOPP was excited by the play of Joe Gomez after the 22-year-old made just his second Premier League start of the season in Liverpool’s game against Watford on Saturday.

The England international had been a regular in the team before breaking his leg last season. In his absence first Joel Matip and then Dejan Lovren impressed and, even after his return from injury, Gomez had to be patient.

Klopp said the form of his rivals, both injured for Saturday’s game, rather than any deficiencies in Gomez’s game, meant he missed out as he waxed lyrical about his handling of one of the league’s most physical strikers.

“In a very good team, which we obviously are, the train doesn’t wait,” the German coach said.

That means other players showed up, and I don’t think anybody thought really we should put Joel on the bench. It is just that the boys are incredibly talented.

“The boy is still young, that is not the reason — it’s just that you keep rhythm and you keep players together. But these two, Joe and [Virgil van Dijk], they like each other a lot, and they can play sensationally well together.

“And Watford was an especially difficult game – Deeney! – and how you can imagine they play one ball direction. And the balls that came into Virgil were only because of the wind, all the others came to Joe, and Deeney goes up.

Football-wise he’s an exceptional player, but against Watford you could see he had to fight, and fight to keep concentrated.”

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When Gomez has got on the field this season, it’s often been at right back, either replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold or allowing the younger man to push into midfield.

Klopp said that he had played the former Charlton man in a position he was less accustomed to in order for him to get used to the pace of the game after his long layoff.

He thought that tactic would pay off as the Reds enter a hectic festive period, featuring games at the Club World Cup as well as in the Carabao Cup and Premier League in the next few weeks.

“Put him on the right side, we thought it made sense because we play (regularly) at least three centre-halves, and it was important for him to have rhythm for the time now — that period over December and January,” Klopp added.

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