Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted Joe Gomez was not as quick as he was previously when he returned from injury last season.
Gomez is just one of three potential deputies for right-back Nathaniel Clyne, who will miss the season opener with Watford on the August 12 through injury.
A combination of hamstring and back problems has limited Clyne’s pre-season appearances to just the single outing – the date at Tranmere Rovers on July 12.
And Klopp, who has admitted Gomez “has got it all back”, must decide whether to play Gomez, Jon Flanagan or Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has impressed in pre-season.
Klopp takes his side to Vicarage Road for the Premier League opener, but after the 5-4 penalty shoot-out loss to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, he confirmed Clyne will miss out.
Klopp said: “He’s on the way back but he’s had no pre-season so far so, for him, it will not only be tight for Watford, it’s pretty much impossible.”
The German then touted Gomez, who can play at either centre-back or right-back, as one of three potential replacements.
“Joe can play both positions so it makes absolute sense that we try both positions, especially in our situation with [Nathaniel] Clyne injured.
“In the moment, three options for this position: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe and Jon Flanagan.
“All of them played the position and now we have to bring them through the next one-and-a-half weeks and hopefully Clyney can come back after this. We have to make a decision.
“For Joe, after the long injury he came back in the middle of the season and was not as quick as he was before.
“But he got it all back and he’s in really good shape and so it’s very important for us that we could bring him in both positions.”
Gomez returned to action in November last season after returning from knee and Achilles tendon injuries, but he was limited to just three FA Cup appearances.