There was a huge shock for Liverpool fans on Monday morning as UEFA confirmed the squad registered for the group stages of the Champions League, with right-back Nathaniel Clyne left out.
Clyne’s injury is worse than first thought
Clyne is currently out with an injury, but it is a mysterious issue. Speaking before the first game of the season, Jurgen Klopp was clearly not expecting quite such a lengthy absence as he is quoted by the Express as having said:
“He’s on the way back but he’s had no pre-season so far so, for him, it will not only be tight for Watford, it’s pretty much impossible. In the moment, three options for this position: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe and Jon Flanagan. All of them played the position and now we have to bring them through the next one-and-a-half weeks and hopefully Clyney can come back after this. We have to make a decision.”
To not be included in the group stage squad would suggest that a return before Christmas is unlikely. That’s clearly a long term issue and will also put Clyne’s potential spot in the England squad at risk for the 2018 World Cup.
Jurgen Klopp trusts Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold has filled in in Clyne’s absence in the opening weeks of the season, and with Klopp not having dipped into the market for a more experienced full-back, he clearly trusts the teenager. Given his displays against Hoffenheim in the qualifier, he is right to do so.
The Scouser is a popular figure already with his dedicated work ethic, and Klopp clearly believes that he is good enough to replace Clyne in the group stages up against strong opposition like Sevilla and CSKA Moscow.
An opportunity for Joe Gomez
The young defender was linked with a loan move away in the summer by the Mirror, but his decision to stay could be vindicated. Having rotated the right-back role with Alexander-Arnold, he will be hoping to come into contention for Champions League fixtures too.
It could also give local lad Jon Flanagan one last shot at the first team. Having failed to impress on loan at Burnley last season, he looked set to depart this summer but a move never materialised. Now included in the squad for the group stages of the Champions League, this could be his last chance.