Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool did not miss Virgil van Dijk that much because of Fabinho
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By Calum Wilson
Last Updated: 22/02/19 12:39pm
Jurgen Klopp is delighted to have Virgil van Dijk back from suspension for their meeting with Manchester United on Renault Super Sunday but says Liverpool did not miss him as much as expected.
Despite the Netherlands defender being suspended, Liverpool were able to shut out Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday, with the makeshift centre-back partnership of Joel Matip and Fabinho standing strong.
Van Dijk is expected to play alongside Matip at the back when they travel to Old Trafford this weekend, with Fabinho reverting to his more familiar role in central midfield.
Klopp also confirmed on Friday Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez were ruled out of the match against United, but the Liverpool boss is happy with the squad of players he has to choose from.
When asked how important it was to have Van Dijk back, Klopp said: "Very. Like he always is. But the most important thing is that we didn't miss him as much as a lot of people expected us to because we defend as a unit.
"Of course it is really good to have him back. It is the first time in weeks that we have to make a choice between midfielders, full-backs and even centre-backs if you think about Fabinho.
"It is great to have him [Fabinho] as an option for both positions. His natural position is in midfield but because he can play at centre-half it makes him an unbelievably valuable player for us.
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"We knew last year that we would lose Emre Can, who is of a similar profile.
"Because Fabinho can play at centre-back it helps us a lot but he is a midfielder and we will use him most of the time in that position."
United will go into the game full of confidence, having won 11 of their 13 matches under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but Klopp insists his side remain difficult to beat despite their injury issues.
He said: "It is not that we go there and we are a weak opponent and they think: 'this is the perfect moment because Liverpool are weak here, or there is a hole there'.
"It is not like that. We are a pretty well organised football team with a lot of potential.
"If we can do that again then it will be a tough one for United."