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Klopp sure Kabak can fill the Reds' Fabinho void



Fresh face: Ozan Kabak could be set to make his Liverpool debut

Fresh face: Ozan Kabak could be set to make his Liverpool debut

AFP via Getty Images

Fresh face: Ozan Kabak could be set to make his Liverpool debut

Ozan Kabak's chances of making his Liverpool debut increased after stand-in centre-back Fabinho was ruled out of today's trip to Leicester with injury, and manager Jurgen Klopp is confident the youngster will cope.

The 20-year-old Turkey international arrived on loan on deadline day to bolster a defence which has included midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip ruled out for the season.

Ideally Klopp would have paired Kabak with Fabinho, as the more experienced of the two makeshift centre-backs, but that is not an option at Leicester today.

Nat Phillips, a genuine centre-back but with less game time than Kabak has had for Schalke this season, could also play but the pace of Jamie Vardy would be a concern for Klopp.

If Kabak does play - he is above fellow deadline-day signing Ben Davies, the former Preston captain, in the pecking order - it will be the 13th different centre-back pairing in 23 Premier League matches this season, but Klopp is confident the new arrival will do a good job.

"Jamie (Vardy) is a proper challenge in this league, the way he plays, the way he gets set up by his mates, so that's a proper job to do," said Klopp. "You have to avoid the pass as Jamie is a world-class player in a specific area of the pitch, and with his speed that is really tricky.

"The boys had some sessions together where we really could work on this defensive set-up and that is really important.

"On top of that we have other players available: Nat Phillips did really well together with Hendo and together with Fab - Fab will not be available, by the way.

"He suffered again a little muscle issue so will be out for this game. We have to find a solution and all of them had a chance this week to show in training who is ready, and so I have to make a decision."

Kabak has played 15 times for Schalke in a difficult season for a side bottom of the Bundesliga.

The current lockout of fans may actually, for once, be a benefit as he would not have to deal with the additional pressure of supporters being present and the expectations placed on him.

"He is still young, so probably yes. Of course it can help," added Klopp.

Belfast Telegraph