What a difference two days makes.
Liverpool was surging under the Jurgen Klopp effect as recently as Tuesday morning, but Joe Gomez and Danny Ings both suffered what appear to be season-ending ACL injuries in successive days.
Most of the 15 appearances Gomez and Ings have made between them in their first season as Liverpool players were full of promise. Their ailments remove a hot prospect at the center- and full-back positions and an up-and-coming striker from the Reds’ reckoning. They also undoubtedly drain some of the momentum and prevailing sense of excitement that were building at Anfield in Klopp’s first few days in charge. The injuries Gomez and Ings suffered are twin blows in both practical and intangible terms.
So now what?
For Gomez and Ings
Both Gomez, 18, and Ings, 23, are young, and their contracts with Liverpool expire in 2020. Klopp indicated Thursday he’ll give Gomez as much time as he needs to recover and return to form. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t approach Ings’ injury similarly.
The risk for Gomez and Ings is one they and their peers face every day in this unforgiving sport, in that another player comes along, either from within or externally, and displaces them in the new manager’s pecking order. While Klopp will offer both players the chance to impress him when they return, he won’t halt Liverpool’s progress for their sake. If opportunities arise for Klopp to recruit a player he deems to be better than Gomez or Ings, the boss must seize them, even if a new arrival costs Ings and Gomez playing time in 2016-17.
For Klopp’s team selection
There’s no way to tell where Gomez and Ings stood within Klopp’s Liverpool squad. Klopp oversaw just three practice sessions and hadn’t named a starting lineup or bench before the injuries struck down Gomez and Ings.
Gomez’s injury creates an opening as Liverpool’s third-choice center back and second-choice fullback (on the right and left) under the previous managerial regime. Working from this point, we should assume Kolo Toure’s workload will increase, but we shouldn’t take the 34-year-old Ivorian’s ability to shoulder it as a given. Jose Enrique and Jon Flanagan now have improved prospects for playing time, and both should be keen to capitalize on the opportunity to reignite their Anfield careers.
An unheralded young player also has the chance to step up from the Academy and contribute to the first team earlier than anyone might have anticipated. Connor Randall, 19, is first among them, having impressed former manager Brendan Rodgers enough to make the bench in Liverpool’s Europa League draws against Bordeaux and FC Sion.
The timing of Ings’ injury is worse than it is for Gomez’s. Daniel Sturridge only recently came back from injury, and a hamstring injury has sidelined Christian Benteke since Sept. 20 and will continue to do so for at least another week. Both require careful handling back to fitness.
Ings had a golden opportunity to play regular minutes and perhaps cement himself as a Kop favorite. Ings’ chance now falls to Divock Origi, 20, who previously had played a bit-part role under Rodgers in his maiden campaign with Liverpool. Origi failed to hit the mark against Sion on Oct. 1, but the middle of the month has offered him fresh opportunity to shine.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@LFCroundup
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