Liverpool youngster Rhys Williams offers Jurgen Klopp unlikely attacking threat
Liverpool youngster Rhys Williams could start next week’s showdown with Leicester amid injuries to first-choice centre-back pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
Jurgen Klopp has been dealt a defensive crisis at Anfield, with Van Dijk set to miss the majority of the season after damaging his ACL away at Everton last month.
Gomez is also expected to miss a “significant part” of the campaign, having sustained his own knee injury while on international duty with England this week.
Fabinho is capable of operating as a makeshift centre-back, but it is unclear whether the Brazilian will be fit in time for the clash with Leicester amid his recovery from a hamstring problem.
As a result, Klopp could turn to 19-year-old academy graduate Williams alongside Joel Matip at the heart of his defence.
The England Under-21 star has impressed when called upon in Champions League and Carabao Cup fixtures this season, producing a number of assured defensive displays.
Nevertheless, he is also capable of making an impact down at the other end of the pitch.
Liverpool’s Under-23 head coach Barry Lewtas has seen first hand how Williams’ aerial presence can pay dividends from an attacking standpoint as well as a defensive one, with the player powering home a header in their win over Chelsea at the end of October.
When speaking about the header, Lewtas told Liverpoolfc.com: “It’s a real asset for Rhys and I’ve seen him over the years work ever so hard on his heading, the leap and the finish.
“As a centre-back it’s a real weapon and it was a cracking goal.”
Williams’ attacking threat, which saw him register five goals and as many assists for Liverpool’s Under-18 side, could tempt Klopp into giving him the nod against Leicester after the international break.
Van Dijk has chipped in with his fair share of goals since arriving on Merseyside, producing a return of 13 in 130 appearances.
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If Klopp wants to replace the Dutchman’s aerial presence for attacking set-pieces as well as defensive duties, Williams could be his best bet.
However, Nat Phillips has recorded three goals in 26 games for Liverpool U23s and therefore represents another solid option for the Reds boss.
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