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Fabinho injury a blow but we'll cope: Wijnaldum


Fitness worry: Fabinho is taken off against Napoli
Fitness worry: Fabinho is taken off against Napoli

By Carl Markham

Georginio Wijnaldum insists Liverpool have the capabilities to push on regardless should key midfielder Fabinho be ruled out for any length of time.

Manager Jurgen Klopp hoped the ankle problem sustained by Fabinho in the 1-1 Champions League draw with Napoli was not serious but has to wait for the results of a scan before he learns the extent of the damage.

The Brazil international has yet to be on the losing side in a Premier League match he has started - a run of 32 games - and has become a hugely-influential figure in the team.

He left Anfield with his left foot in a protective boot and, although he is suspended for tomorrow's visit of Brighton, his participation in Wednesday's Merseyside derby could be in doubt.

Wijnaldum came off the bench and assumed the defensive midfield role when Fabinho was forced off against Napoli and has performed it numerous times before, although he admits the Brazilian's absence is not helpful.

"It is a blow, a big blow for the whole team, of course also for him as a player, but there are situations you have to deal with," said the Dutch international.

"I think during the years we have had a few blows, injuries, and we just have to show we can deal with the situation.

"I have played it (Fabinho's role) last season. You think I am ready? We will see.

"We just have to show that it doesn't affect us. During the years we had some difficult injuries and difficult positions, (like) last season when we didn't have a defender. We just have to deal with it, so we will see."

Soon after Fabinho was forced off, Anfield held its collective breath with Virgil van Dijk laid flat out in the centre-circle after being hurt during an aerial challenge.

Napoli scored while the Netherlands captain was on the floor but, despite initial worries, he was able to pick himself up and complete the full 90 minutes.

Losing Van Dijk would be a nightmare scenario for Klopp's Premier League leaders considering the impact he has had, and Wijnaldum admits even the players felt that concern.

"Everyone was worried, not only about Virgil but every player," added Wijnaldum. "The way we see it is every player is important for us as a team. Every player who gets injured, we are worried so we were worried when Fabinho was laying down on the ground but also when Virgil was.

"I think Virgil is okay because he finished the game. With Fabinho, it is difficult to say because he went out. We will have to see in the next few days."

Failure to beat Napoli means Liverpool have to go to Austria in a fortnight likely needing a point against Red Bull Salzburg in order to progress to the last-16 of the Champions League.

With the club's packed fixture schedule it was hoped that game would have been a dead-rubber but now Klopp has to factor in the implications of not beating the Italians.

"It comes to the last game so there is nothing we can change about it, so what we have to do is to deal with the situation," said Wijnaldum. "It is definitely going to be a tough game but it will be tough for both teams."

Meanwhile, Liverpool's quest to win the Club World Cup in Qatar will be broadcast by the BBC.

The Champions League winners will begin their campaign with a semi-final on Wednesday, December 18 and then play either a final or third-place play-off on Saturday, December 21.

Klopp's side face a fixture pile-up over the festive period, having just begun a spell of 14 matches in 43 days up to and including their entry into the FA Cup in the first week of January.

That run includes a Carabao Cup quarter-final clash with Aston Villa just 24 hours before the Club World Cup semi-final.

Liverpool, currently leading the Premier League, last featured in the Club World Cup in 2005 where they lost the final 1-0 to Sao Paulo.

Their semi-final in Doha will be broadcast live on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer at 5.30pm.

Belfast Telegraph


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