James Milner is “devastated” by Joe Gomez’s latest injury lay-off but is confident his Liverpool team-mate will return even stronger.
Gomez sustained a knee injury during a training session with England last week and will miss “a significant part” of 2020-21 after undergoing surgery.
The 23-year-old recovered from a long-term anterior cruciate ligament injury during his first season at Anfield and also bounced back from a broken leg in 2018.
Fellow centre-back Virgil van Dijk is out for the rest of the season, meanwhile, and makeshift defender Fabinho has also recently had a spell on the sidelines.
From the 52 matches Gomez and Van Dijk have played in together, Liverpool’s win percentage is 76.9, compared to 74.5 from the 47 in which one or both has not been present.
Despite Gomez’s untimely setback, Milner believes the former Charlton Athletic man has the right mindset to fully recover and pick up from where he left off once he returns.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 21, 2020
“We’ve spoken about Virg a lot, Joe is exactly the same. I’m devastated for him,” he told Premier League Productions.
“He’s an amazing guy, first and foremost and most importantly, and you don’t want to see it happen to anyone but [especially not] someone like him.
“As a player, how good he is as well. People forget how young he is and what he’s done at this club already and how much he has improved and continues to improve.
“He’s still really young. He’s been through this once before with a bad injury and came through it stronger, so if anybody has got the mental fortitude to deal with this, it’s him.
“He has been through it before and he came back stronger, and I’m sure that will be the case again.
“Obviously we’re gutted for him and how well he’s been playing as well. Not only for him as a player and a person, but also for us as a team it’s obviously a big miss.
“But, like I say, he’s mentally very strong and he’ll get through it and come back stronger. We’re obviously all here with him and supporting him as much as we can.”
Jurgen Klopp faces a selection headache at the back for Liverpool’s Premier League clash against high-flying Leicester City with a dearth of fit and available senior centre-backs.
— James Milner (@JamesMilner) November 20, 2020
Joel Matip looks certain to start Sunday’s match, with Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams contenders to play alongside the 29-year-old in the heart of defence.
Phillips impressed on his league debut against West Ham last month, his nine clearances being six more than next best Gomez, while no Liverpool player managed more interceptions (2).
Fabinho is another option after returning to training this week following three weeks out and Milner is adamant his side have enough quality to cope without key players.
“We’re blessed to have a lot of good players in the squad, there’s always competition for places,” he said.
“The guys who have stepped into the team in recent weeks, at centre-half and any position, have done very well. Rhys and Nat as well. There’s options there.
“Fabinho has done very well when he has played. That’s what you have to do as a squad – you have to make changes and adapt to new formations and new positions.
“We’re fortunate to have a lot of good players in the squad and players who can adapt to different positions and deal with that.
“We’re lucky to have those options, and I’m sure the manager will work out the best way we’re going to go and go from there.”