Liverpool have been handed an injury boost ahead of their hotly anticipated Champions League match against Ajax, as Jurgen Klopp confirmed Ibrahima Konate’s availability.
The Lowdown: Konate’s Injury
The 23-year-old has been sidelined for most of this season with a nasty knee injury, which has meant the centre-back has made just two appearances all season.
It’s not been ideal for Liverpool’s £36m man, who would have liked to have played significantly more since making the switch from RB Leipzig to Anfield last year.
The injury was initially picked up in a friendly against RC Strasbourg, which meant any ideal preparation for the season went out the window for the defender.
The Latest: Potential Minutes
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp said of the Frenchman:
“Yes, he [Konate] is here. Ready to play minutes, I would say. He could play the first minutes but that would not make too much sense, so minutes yes. That’s it. Nothing new yet.”
While these words suggest it’s unlikely that the stricken defender will be handed a start, it gives hope that perhaps a cameo appearance may be possible.
The Verdict: Defensive Boost
The comments from the Liverpool manager are very encouraging for the Anfield outfit. Liverpool have been nowhere near their best this season, and that’s been partly down to their defensive woes.
The reds have conceded 13 goals in the league so far, while defenders Joe Gomez and usually reliable Virgil van Dijk have not been anywhere near their best. The Dutchman actually commented on the ex RB Leipzig man earlier this year, labelling him as a “very, very good player” – suggesting he may have missed the 23-year-old beside him as of late.
In Liverpool’s last match, Joe Gomez made a needless foul leading to a goal, while the Englishman has also been at fault elsewhere this season – there’s a suggestion that these may have been avoidable with different personnel.
Overall, the return of the 6 foot 3 man would be a huge boost at the back, where the defender ranks in the top 6% for Aerials won, as per FBRef. Liverpool may feel with Van Dijk out of sorts recently that they are lacking a strong physical presence, so Konate’s return would certainly alleviate that concern.