Premier League • England

Klopp slams Southgate over baffling England snub of ‘exceptional’ Liverpool star

Jonny Whitfield
Jurgen Klopp with head in hands during Liverpool v Chelsea

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hit back at England counterpart Gareth Southgate for not including Joe Gomez in his latest squad.

The centre-back only recently returned from a long-term knee injury and has subsequently struggled for game time. What’s more, he sits behind Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip in Liverpool’s Premier League pecking order.

Gomez did form a key part of Southgate’s plans until his injury in November 2020. In fact, the 24-year-old suffered the problem while on international duty.

While he has not had any league minutes this term, neither has Manchester City’s John Stones.

Nevertheless, he featured in the latest Three Lions squad, playing in both games and scoring on Tuesday.

In his press conference on Friday, Klopp hit back at Southgate for his decision.

Asked what Gomez has to do to get more minutes at Liverpool, the manager said: “Nothing special, he’s in a top shape. I know that Gareth from time to time reacts that if a player’s not playing regularly at his club then he’s not playing for his national team.

“Obviously there’s a special rule for Mr Stones, but Joe didn’t get called up. Stuff like this would have helped him to have some games.

Liverpool joined by Juventus and AS Roma in Denis Zakaria chase

Liverpool have reportedly been joined by Juventus and AS Roma in the race for Switzerland midfielder Denis Zakaria, with more news on Jeremy Doku and Aaron Ramsey.

“I really think he’s exceptional, but in the moment we have five exceptional centre-halves and Nat [Phillips] is not making the squad, but he trains exceptional as well.

“Joe has nothing to do differently, just to continue working and everything will be fine.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was the only Anfield representative in Southgate’s senior squad this time around.

However, the Reds did not escape an injury problem elsewhere, Curtis Jones encountering an issue while playing for the Under-21s.

“He was not involved in the first game, they didn’t do a scan, then he played a few minutes in the second game against Andorra. Great, very important that he played there, came back, slight injury and he’s not available for tomorrow,” Klopp said.

Liverpool concerns mount

Brazil midfielder Fabinho in action against USA at MetLife Stadium

The Reds face Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday, managed by new boss Claudio Ranieri.

However, Klopp will also be without goalkeeper Alisson Becker and midfielder Fabinho.

Both players were in the matchday squad for Brazil’s final match of the international break, which kicked off at 1.30am BST on Friday in the UK – late on Thursday in Brazil.

The Analyst: Man United, Tottenham and Everton capable of comeback wins this weekend

The pair will now have to quarantine before they return to England, but they will do so outside the UK.

Still, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota are back from muscle issues. Thiago Alcantara continues to nurse a calf problem.

READ MORE: Salah reveals what keeps him motivated while contract debacle rumbles on