Jurgen Klopp is excited to welcome Virgil van Dijk back from suspension for their meeting with Manchester United despite admitting Liverpool did not miss him as much as expected.
The Dutch defender served a one-game ban against Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday, leaving them with the option of Fabinho and Matip at the back.
Klopp also confirmed Van Dijk is expected to play alongside Matip at the back at Old Trafford with Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez both ruled out for the encounter.
When asked how important it was to have Van Dijk back, Klopp said via Sky: “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’s brilliant to have him as an option for both positions, but his natural position is in midfield."
The boss on @_fabinhotavares. 👊
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 22, 2019
“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.
“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.”
Although Klopp reckons his team is up against a much improved Man United team under Solskjaer, the German gaffer believes his team is going for the jugular 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 potentials.
“If we can do that again then it will be a tough one for United.”
A win will take Liverpool to the summit of the Premier League, three points above City.