Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has confessed that he is excited by the challenge of finding a way to cope without star centre-back Virgil van Dijk this season.
The Dutch defender suffered an ACL injury during the Merseyside derby against Everton and recently took the first step on the road to recovery by undergoing successful surgery on the injury.
Van Dijk is still expected to miss the majority of the current season, and while that is obviously a blow to Liverpool and their quest to retain the Premier League title, Klopp confessed to Sky Sports News that he is looking forward to coming up with a way to soften the blow.
“Whenever you get a problem, whatever problem it is – in football it is mainly about missing players, it happens pretty much every year – you need a moment to settle, more or less to realise ‘that’s it now’,” the boss revealed. “And from that moment on I see it like it is, it’s a challenge. And I like challenges!
“So I’m good with the situation, and now let’s deal with it, let’s make the best of it. Let’s see the chance in it, the opportunity for other players and all these kind of things. Let’s get even closer together.
“There are a lot of things you can take out of a situation like that. It’s not easy – I know that – and it’s not about saying a little bit and smiling here, smiling there. It’s about really living the challenge and that’s what we’re doing.”
With Joël Matip and Fabinho also unavailable, Klopp has been forced to give opportunities to young Rhys Williams, who spent last season in the National League North with Kidderminster Harriers, and the boss admitted that he didn’t actually know much about Williams before this season.
“We knew from the pre-season Nat Phillips was back [from his loan at Stuttgart],” Klopp continued. “I know him for a long time already and like him a lot, sensational boy, character, real fighter, and we knew about ‘Billy the Kid’ (Billy Koumetio), he was in a pre-season with us.
“Then when Billy was injured we thought ‘OK, how can we fill it up?’. And Vitor [Matos, development coach] said, ‘No, there’s Rhys Williams, he’s really good’. ‘Ok, bring him up’, and then I saw him the first time, and from the first moment he’s pretty impressive. He’s a character as well, which helps, so that’s the situation now.
“That’s what I mean when you have problems you need to realise there’s a problem then immediately you have to work on the solutions. Our solutions are now pretty young players.
“We will see how we will and can use them. But they will help us and we will help them, and Rhys is one of them.”