Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists that he will not use the current partnership between Nathaniel Phillips and Ozan Kabak as a test over their long-term futures.
Phillips and Kabak have emerged as a surprise defensive pairing for the injury-hit Reds this season.
Indeed, they would never usually get a look in with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip fit.
But with the senior trio all out, Phillips and Kabak have found themselves at the heart of the defence.
Wednesday’s win over RB Leipzig saw the duo combine for a third outing and pick up a second clean sheet. In addition, they allowed stand-in centre-back Fabinho to return to midfield.
Klopp told Saturday’s press conference that while he wants the pair to continue as they are for now, he is not looking to test their long-term credentials.
“There’s no test now, or whatever. It’s not a testing period for the long-term future and stuff like this,” he told reporters (via the Liverpool Echo).
“We will see, I hope they will stay fit. I cannot sit here and give guarantees for these kind of things.
“I heard nothing different so far so I think they will be available and they looked good. If they are physically ready to go again, which I hope, then why should we change it?
“That’s clear, we want to have consistency that we never had. They looked really good and hopefully they can play a lot of games, if not all of the rest.”
Kabak, who joined on loan from Schalke on January’s transfer deadline day, has an option to make his deal permanent.
But the Reds also brought in Ben Davies from Championship side Preston, who has yet to feature.
Klopp wants to help Davies adjust
Klopp insisted that “it will take as long as it takes” for the 25-year-old to settle and compared his adjustment to that of Andy Robertson, who signed from Hull in 2017.
“If not [Kabak and Phillips], then we have to find solutions again. Rhys Williams, I don’t want to forget him, he’s in a good moment. Ben Davies, he has to adapt – that was always clear,” Klopp added.
“The most famous story is maybe Andy Robertson, it took him half a year in a normal season where everything else was kind of settled to settle in.
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“Ben is a really good player, but he has to get used to all the stuff here as well. We have now options and hopefully it will stay like this.”
Asked if he will wait until next season to give Davies his debut, Klopp said: “I don’t make these kind of judgements.
“I don’t tell Ben ‘You just have to train now until the middle of May and then we see further’. No, it will take as long as it takes.”
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