Jurgen Klopp narrows down options to replace Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has heaped praise on Rhys Williams as the Liverpool boss weighs up handing the teenager his first Premier League start against West Ham on Saturday.

The Reds are in the midst of a defensive injury crisis, with long-term absentee Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip – who is lacking match fitness – joined on the sidelines by Fabinho.

The Brazilian will miss the visit of the Irons after picking up a hamstring injury against Midtjylland on Tuesday and faces a race to be fit for after the upcoming international break.

In the meantime, Klopp is likely to turn to his youth players and Williams is poised to make his Premier League debut alongside Joe Gomez in central defence.

Klopp has just one senior centre-back fully fit

Discussing the 19-year-old’s development in his pre-match press conference, Klopp said: “I can say a lot about his progress in the last few weeks – exceptional.

“[Elite development coach] Vitor Matos made us aware of him – we took him in training – he looked good. We also have Billy the kid [Koumetio] and Nat Phillips. They train with us.”

Williams featured in both of Liverpool’s Carabao Cup fixtures this season and has come off the bench in their two Champions League group stage matches.

The England U21 international came on in the closing stages of the 1-0 win at Ajax and played a major role in the 2-0 win over Midtjylland.

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How impressive was Williams against Midtjylland on Tuesday? Have your say here.

Williams is poised to make his Premier League debut

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After Fabinho went down clutching his leg, Williams came on in the 30th minute and helped the Reds keep a clean sheet against the Danish club.

The Liverpool academy graduate spent last season on loan with Kidderminster Harriers in the National League North.

Williams made 26 league appearances for the club, scoring once, before returning to Liverpool ahead of the current campaign.

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