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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Jurgen Klopp to use time in Dubai to solve Liverpool defensive dilemma

Milner's red card in Saturday's 4-3 win over Crystal Palace leaves manager with a headache over who to play at right-back for next week's visit of Leiceste

Liverpool's James Milner filled in at right-back in the 4-3 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield. The Englishman picked up a red card though, ruling him out of the next match against Leicester City. Reuters
Liverpool's James Milner filled in at right-back in the 4-3 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield. The Englishman picked up a red card though, ruling him out of the next match against Leicester City. Reuters

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes to use a warm weather training camp in Dubai find a solution to the Premier League leaders' defensive problem.

James Milner's red card in Saturday's 4-3 win over Crystal Palace leaves Klopp with a headache over who to play at right-back for next week's visit of Leicester City.

Utility man Milner was asked to plug a gap after first-choice Trent Alexander-Arnold was ruled out with a knee injury before Saturday's match at Anfield. Although not serious, the England international is expected to be out of contention for several weeks.

Joe Gomez will use his time in Dubai to step up his recovery from a broken foot sustained in the 3-1 win over Burnley on December 5.

Fabinho would have been an option in a position he plays for Brazil but he came off injured late on against Palace - and even if fit he may be needed in midfield with Georginio Wijnaldum out with a hamstring problem.

Klopp gave 18-year-old Rafael Camacho his Premier League debut for the final few minutes at the weekend and the Portuguese teenager could be in line to make his full debut if all back-up plans fail, with the German insisting the club will not scour the transfer market for a short-term solution.

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"Now we need the time to recover obviously, because we had a few injuries," Klopp told his club's official website.

"Hopefully we can bring a few back. 'Millie' will be out for sure, unfortunately, but we will see - as long as we have enough players we will find a solution.

"We had to come through the centre-half situation [playing Fabinho alongside Virgil van Dijk when Gomez, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren were all injured] and that somehow worked out; then the full-back situation worked out somehow so far. [But] in midfield 'Gini' is not in so you cannot make the changes you want."

Victory over Palace maintained Liverpool's four-point lead over Manchester City with the fixtures coming thick and fast in what now looks a two-horse race for the title.

And while injuries take their toll as the club seek a first top-flight championship since 1990, Klopp, who described his players as "proper warriors", said any notion that their time in Dubai will be spent relaxing was wide of the mark.

"These boys are real fighters. It's a bunch of proper warriors - I love that. They all stick their leg in or whatever," Klopp added.

"It would have been a massive challenge if we had to play Wednesday and then Saturday. I have no idea how we would have done that, to be honest.

"Now we have two days' recovery for the boys with the most minutes then we start preparing them for the Leicester game, which is another tough task.

"It will not be a real break, we have to use it for training."

Updated: January 21, 2019 05:42 PM

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