Liverpool's Defence: Breakdown of the Reds' Injury Crisis & Return Timelines

Tom Gott
Jurgen Klopp is missing most of his defence
Jurgen Klopp is missing most of his defence / Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It's safe to say that Liverpool's defence is not in a good way right now.

A combination of serious injuries and poorly timed fitness issues has left Jurgen Klopp with just three senior defenders at his disposal - two of whom are left-backs Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas - and that's not the best situation to be stuck in when you're trying to defend your Premier League crown.

Let's take a look at the state of play for the Reds.

Virgil van Dijk

Van Dijk is not expected back for a while
Van Dijk is not expected back for a while / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

What injury does he have?

Virgil van Dijk has undergone successful surgery on damage to his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). He is now on the long road to recovery.

When will he return?

It's going to be a while before we see the Dutchman.

The 29-year-old ruptured his ACL in October's 2-2 draw with Everton, an injury that can take seven to nine months to fully recover from.

While in some cases, the return timeline is shorter (see Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo) It'll be nothing short of astonishing if Van Dijk makes it back on to the pitch before May, and with the season scheduled to end on 23 May, it doesn't seem like the Dutchman will be strutting his stuff at Anfield again in 2020/21.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

What injury does he have?

Trent Alexander-Arnold went down with grade one or two tear to his calf in the draw with Manchester City (8/11).

When will he return?

Liverpool's only senior right-back, Alexander-Arnold injury prompted Klopp to plead for a more-relaxed fixture schedule.

The 22-year-old is expected to miss four weeks of action, but fortunately for Liverpool fans, that may only be two games as the international break takes up half of Alexander-Arnold's recovery time.

In the Premier League, Alexander-Arnold is expected to miss meetings with Leicester City and Brighton, while Champions League ties with Atalanta and Ajax will also pass him by. 5 December meeting with Wolves looks to be his targeted return date.

In his place, the versatile James Milner is an option, while Klopp could turn to 19-year-old Welshman Neco Williams.


Fabinho could be back soon
Fabinho could be back soon / Michael Regan/Getty Images

What injury does he have?

Fabinho has picked up an unspecified 'minor' thigh injury.

When will he return?

Natural midfielder Fabinho was the man drafted in to replace Van Dijk, but after doing so admirably in a 2-1 in over Sheffield United, he managed just 30 minutes of a Champions League game against Midtjylland (27/10) before pulling up with a hamstring injury.

Initial fears that it may have been a serious muscle tear were soon calmed, but Fabinho was still unable to play a part in any of Liverpool's last three games before the international break.

Fortunately, the Brazilian is expected back after the interval, although just how soon after is still up in the air. The visit of Leicester on November 21 comes less than a month after Fabinho first went down injured.

Joe Gomez

Gomez is awaiting a diagnosis
Gomez is awaiting a diagnosis / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

What injury does he have?

Joe Gomez damaged a tendon in his left knee during training on 11 November.

When will he return?

While the international break is a blessing in disguise for Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho, it's come as a real nightmare for Gomez.

The 23-year-old went down with a serious knee injury during England training, and Liverpool have now confirmed that Gomez will miss a 'significant part of the season' after undergoing successful surgery on the issue.

With both Gomez and Van Dikjk out for a while, expect to see more of academy stars Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio going forward - as well as some January transfer action.

Joel Matip

Matip is back in action
Matip is back in action / Visionhaus/Getty Images

What injury does he have?

None (for now). Joel Matip is currently fit having recently recovered from injury.

However, the fact that Matip is Liverpool's only senior centre-back is a little concerning, given the Cameroon international's troublesome injury record.

Matip has started just twice in the Premier League this season, but he made a timely return from a minor knock to play the full 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw with City before the break.

If he can stay fit, he looks set to be a crucial part of the Reds' lineup this season.

Kostas Tsimikas

Tsimikas is ready to for a run in the team
Tsimikas is ready to for a run in the team / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

What injury does he have?


It's been a stop-start beginning to life at Anfield for summer signing Tsimikas, who picked up a thigh injury in his debut against Lincoln City. He recovered enough to head out on international duty with Greece, only to test positive for COVID-19 and be forced into self-isolation.

Fortunately, the left-back is available once again. He played eight minutes against Atalanta and could rotate with Robertson in an attempt to avoid injuries to either player.

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