Fabinho in­jury wor­ries Klopp

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport - Liver­pool

– Juer­gen Klopp is pre­par­ing to em­bark on a fran­tic run of fix­tures with fears over the fit­ness of Fabinho (above) af­ter the mid­fielder limped out of Liver­pool’s Cham­pi­ons League draw against Napoli.

The 26-year-old Brazil­ian has emerged as one of the un­sung he­roes of Klopp’s team, who have a com­fort­able eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Fabinho suf­fered an an­kle in­jury dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s 1-1 Cham­pi­ons League draw with Napoli, a re­sult that leaves the reign­ing cham­pi­ons need­ing a point from their fi­nal group game at Salzburg to guar­an­tee progress.

Klopp had been look­ing for a vic­tory against the Ital­ians, to en­sure that at least one of his fix­tures dur­ing this chaotic run could be treated as a dead rub­ber.

But the Liver­pool man­ager was left with graver con­cerns when Fabinho limped off early.

Fel­low mid­fielder Ge­orginio Wi­j­nal­dum said an in­jury to Fabinho, signed from Monaco in July 2018, would be a “big blow”, with Liver­pool in­volved in four com­pe­ti­tions in De­cem­ber.

But he added: “We just have to show that it doesn’t af­fect us. Dur­ing the years we have had some dif­fi­cult in­juries and dif­fi­cult po­si­tions (like) last sea­son when we didn’t have a right de­fender, we just have to deal with it so we will see.”

Fabinho has emerged as a cru­cial player at An­field, fill­ing a sit­ting mid­field role that had pre­vi­ously been the pre­serve of Jor­dan Hen­der­son.

He took his time to set­tle, with crit­ics ques­tion­ing the wis­dom of Klopp’s de­ci­sion to bring him to An­field.

But, once ac­cus­tomed to the de­mands of the English game, Fabinho quickly be­came an in­te­gral part of a Liver­pool side that would lose just one league match, to cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City in Jan­uary, over the en­tire cam­paign.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, per­haps, Fabinho did not start that game, com­ing on as a sec­ond-half sub­sti­tute. Liver­pool have not lost a league game in which their mid­field lynch­pin has started since he ar­rived at the club nearly 18 months ago.

Klopp was still not of­fer­ing any di­ag­no­sis of the in­jury by Thurs­day, with re­ports sug­gest­ing medics were wait­ing for the swelling in Fabinho’s an­kle to die down be­fore con­duct­ing thor­ough tests.

In any case, Fabinho was al­ways due to miss to­day’s Brighton game at An­field due to sus­pen­sion, hav­ing picked up five book­ings for a one-match ban. – AFP

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