Gomez undergoes surgery, Liverpool faces shortage in defense

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Joe Gomez faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery to repair a tendon in his left knee, leaving Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with even more limited options at center back.

The injury flared up while away with the England team during training.

“The issue was isolated to Gomez’s tendon, with no damage to any other associated knee ligaments,” Liverpool said on Thursday, “and Joe will now begin a rehabilitation programme with our medical team.”

Already without Virgil Van Dijk for most of the season after anterior cruciate ligament surgery, Liverpool without Gomez is set to leave Klopp with just one senior central defender in Joel Matip.

Matip has had injury problems of his own, having played only three times this season and just returning from a five-match absence only on Sunday against Manchester City.

With the transfer window not open until January, Klopp has already been forced to utilize players within the extended squad.

Klopp was happy to begin the defense of Liverpool’s Premier League title with just three center backs, with the backup plan being to drop midfielder Fabinho into defense.

That was tested earlier than expected when he had to field the Brazil international in the 2-0 win at Chelsea in Liverpool’s second match of the season, with Fabinho excelling.

Fabinho also put in a man-of-the-match display in a Champions League win over Ajax but he injured a hamstring a week later and has been out since. He is expected to return after the international break.

However, with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s calf problem potentially ruling him out for four weeks, Fabinho was also possibly being earmarked for a spell at right back, where he played previously for Monaco and Brazil.

Inexperienced duo Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams have been interchangeable since the loss of Van Dijk and Fabinho and both have impressed.

The 23-year-old Phillips can play only domestically as he was not registered for Europe. Williams, at 19, has featured five times this season.

Klopp has also played his go-to utility player, Georginio Wijnaldum, in the back four, although not for any high-profile games.

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