Fabinho missed Liverpool‘s Premier League clash with Tottenham in north London on Thursday night having suffered a fresh injury problem, with Jurgen Klopp confirming the defensive midfielder, who has been covering in defence in recent months, has suffered a minor muscle issue. Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip lined up at centre-back with the Cameroonian returning from a fitness issue of his own.
With Fabinho absent, both Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips were the Premier League champions’ stand-ins on the bench, though the former struggled at Manchester United in the FA Cup at the weekend.
Henderson and Matip is the 11th different centre-back partnership Liverpool have lined up with this season after 20 league games.
And Liverpool boss Klopp confirmed of Fabinho pre-match when speaking to BT Sport: “Actually it was nothing really. He just felt something so we had to take him out. Now he’s out.
“It wasn’t in a challenge or in an intense situation or anything. It’s just how things happen. It is how it is.”
That came after BT Sport’s Darren Fletcher had said: “We’re led to believe it’s nothing major. A tweak that he’s picked up in training that means he can’t play tonight.”
Fabinho played the full 90 minutes in the 3-2 defeat to United at Old Trafford on Sunday, his 26th appearance of the season, but has suffered the setback since then.
The Brazilian has deputised excellently for Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez in central defence this term and Liverpool will be desperate for the South American to return quickly.
Liverpool’s stance on the January transfer window has been that they will not sign a new centre-half, despite Klopp indicating last week that he has asked for one to be signed.
The German said: “I am not a five-year-old kid any more and if I don’t get what I want I start crying. Most of the time in my life I didn’t get what I want, to be honest!
“I am responsible for a big part of this club but there are people who are responsible for the whole thing, and I cannot make their decisions. I know they are with us, I know they want to support us, and they do.
“Now we talk about a centre-half. Yes, it would help, 100 per cent. Would we score more goals with a centre-half? I am not sure. Would it give us more stability in specific moments? Probably, yes.
“But it’s not about that. We never, ever spoke in the transfer window like this because that would be an excuse and we don’t need that.
“What we have to do is improve the football in the decisive areas with this squad, and not sit here and be disappointed or frustrated with some decisions. I’m not.
“Of course we know what we would do in an ideal world but the world is not ideal and not just for us. We have to deal with the situation.
“A centre-half last night would not have won us the game so we don’t have to talk about that. I know it is a good thing for you to talk about but for me it is just not that important.
“Everything is on the table, everything is clear, and we just have to work on the football stuff.”
He added on Wednesday when asked if there is any chance Liverpool will sign a defender by Sunday’s deadline: “Not really – no not really.
“I would not say absolutely 100 per cent [there will not be a new signing], but no but I don’t expect anything to be honest.”
Liverpool’s 11 different centre-back partnerships this season
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez
Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho
Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip
Joe Gomez and Fabinho
Joe Gomez and Nat Phillips
Joe Gomez and Joel Matip
Fabinho and Joel Matip
Fabinho and Nat Phillips
Fabinho and Rhys Williams
Fabinho and Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip