Rhys Williams: Liverpool defender left out of England U21 squad with hip issue

Liverpool defender Rhys Williams left out by England U21s as precaution over hip issue; Jurgen Klopp without Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk; Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson remain doubtful for Sunday's match against Leicester, live on Sky Sports

Rhys Williams of England U21 during the UEFA Euro Under 21 Qualifier match between England U21 and Andorra U21 at Molineux on November 13, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Visionhaus)
Image: Rhys Williams could still be named on the bench for Liverpool against Leicester on Sunday, live on Sky Sports

Liverpool centre-back Rhys Williams was left out of the England Under-21s squad to face Albania on Tuesday night with a hip issue.

Manager Aidy Boothroyd said the 19-year-old was sent back to Liverpool as a precaution after complaining about a small hip problem ahead of the game.

"He had a very minor stiff hip,' Boothroyd said. "It was in his best interests to get him back to Liverpool.

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"With all the players, if there's any potential injuries or niggles then our medical staff is in contact with the club.

"Rhys wasn't actually on the bench so I thought the best thing was to get him back to Liverpool."

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be hoping the injury is not serious ahead of Sunday's match against Leicester, live on Sky Sports, after Joe Gomez sustained what is likely to be a season-ending injury with the senior England side last week, while Virgil van Dijk is set to miss the 2020/21 campaign with a long-term knee injury.

Club captain Jordan Henderson is a doubt to face Leicester after coming off for England against Belgium at the weekend with tightness in his leg, while Trent Alexander-Arnold withdrew from the squad ahead of the game with injury.

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The defence is threadbare with left-back Andy Robertson also a doubt with a hamstring issue while Liverpool's midfield is without Thiago Alcantara and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as both players recover from knee injuries.

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Williams could still be named as a substitute for Sunday's clash against Premier League leaders Leicester, live on Sky Sports, with Nathaniel Phillips set to start alongside Joel Matip.

Williams had made five appearances for Liverpool so far this season, two in the Carabao Cup and three in the Champions League.

Liverpool set to be decimated against Leicester

Analysis by Sky Sports' Richard Morgan:

Liverpool could be without a whole host of first-team stars when they take on Premier League leaders Leicester at Anfield - live on Sky Sports - on Sunday night.

Jordan Henderson, Andy Robertson and Rhys Williams are the latest players to join the club's lengthening injury list after picking up problems while recently away on international duty.

Henderson was withdrawn at half-time of England's 2-0 loss in Belgium on Sunday after experiencing tightness in a back muscle, while Robertson missed Scotland's 1-0 defeat to Slovakia earlier that day with a tight hamstring.

The Liverpool captain will now be assessed by the club's medical staff after returning early from the England camp, although Robertson played the entire 90 minutes of Scotland's 1-0 loss in Israel on Wednesday, and both players are expected to feature this weekend.

And Liverpool are also believed to be confident Williams will have recovered from the minor hip issue that saw the young central defender sent home from England U21 duty on Tuesday in time to be considered to face the Foxes.

Liverpool's lengthening injury list

  • Fabinho - hamstring
  • Virgil Van Dijk - knee
  • Jordan Henderson - tight back muscle
  • Joe Gomez - knee
  • Andy Robertson - hamstring
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold - calf
  • Thiago Alcantara - knee
  • Mo Salah - coronavirus
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - knee
  • Rhys Williams - hip

However, one Liverpool player who will not be lining up against Brendan Rodgers's side on Sunday is top scorer Mohamed Salah, who tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty with Egypt.

The forward initially tested positive while on international duty with Egypt on Friday, before returning another positive test on Wednesday that is expected to rule him out of the club's next three matches.

All of which adds to the current problems facing manager Jurgen Klopp, who has already lost centre-backs Virgin van Dijk and Joe Gomez to long-term knee injuries, while Liverpool's defence will also be missing regular right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold due to a calf strain sustained in their last league outing at Man City.

Meanwhile, Klopp may even be unable to use versatile holding midfielder Fabinho as cover in defence against Leicester, with the Brazilian still recovering from the hamstring strain he picked up against FC Midtjylland at the end of October.

Midfield is also a problem area for the German, with summer signing Thiago Alcantara still suffering the aftereffects from the knee injury he sustained against Everton on October 17, although there is hope the playmaker may be fit enough to play some part against the Foxes.

However, the same cannot be said of fellow midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who injured his knee in pre-season training at the end of August and is still yet to resume training.

Liverpool's injuries assessed

GRAPHIC

Liverpool's defensive crisis was dealt another blow after Joe Gomez suffered a serious injury on England duty, joining Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho on the treatment table.

To compound the growing injury list, influential right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold also withdrew from international duty with a calf strain sustained during the 1-1 draw at Manchester City - while Andrew Robertson missed Scotland's 1-0 defeat to Slovakia on Sunday night, in addition to Henderson limping out of England's defeat in Belgium.

But have Liverpool picked up the most injuries this season? Data compiled by Premier Injuries reveals Jurgen Klopp's side have picked up 15 injuries lasting 10 days or more this season - only Manchester City have suffered more (16).

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