Trent Alexander-Arnold has tipped Rhys Williams for a ‘bright future’ and says the Liverpool youngster has been doing a ‘world-class’ job filling in for the injured Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho.
Jurgen Klopp had been playing Fabinho as a makeshift centre-back following Van Dijk’s devastating knee injury in the Merseyside derby but the versatile Brazilian was himself forced off with a hamstring problem in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Midtjylland.
This meant 19-year-old academy product Williams had to be introduced in the 30th minute and the England Under-21 international impressed alongside Joe Gomez at the heart of Liverpool’s defence at Anfield, with Joel Matip also sidelined.
Williams did not look out of place in a Liverpool side littered with superstars – despite only making his debut last month – and Alexander-Arnold is convinced his young team-mate has the ability and the maturity to step up amid the club’s injury crisis at the back.
Asked about Fabinho’s hamstring injury on Tuesday night, Alexander-Arnold told Liverpool’s official website: ‘Obviously he’s covering in at centre-half and he’s been playing unbelievable in the last few games.
‘Obviously that happens and it’s disappointing – hopefully it’s not too long because we’ll miss him.
‘That position is probably a little bare at the minute to say the least but we’ve got an amazing squad, you’ve seen Rhys Williams stepping in and doing a world-class job.
‘At such a young age with such little experience, unbelievable from him. He never really put a foot wrong. Well done to him and I think he’s got a bright future ahead.’
On the big opportunity that has fallen to Williams, Alexander-Arnold added: ‘I think he’s an amazing player, he’s shown that over the last few weeks.
‘He wasn’t with us much last season but he came in this season and showed how good a player he is.
‘The manager obviously trusts him a lot and he’s been playing a few minutes.
‘To be thrown in at the deep end on the biggest of stages is tough to do, tough to perform, but he never really put a foot wrong.
‘So I think he’ll definitely be in the manager’s thoughts hopefully come the weekend and further on.’
Klopp admitted an injury to Fabinho was ‘exactly the last thing’ Liverpool needed but claimed the player himself felt he could have continued through the pain versus Midtjylland.
‘Exactly the last thing we needed,’ the Liverpool head coach told BT Sport shortly after the final whistle.
‘I don’t know, he felt his hamstring so that’s not good.
‘He didn’t feel it that much he said he could’ve played on but not sprinting so that doesn’t help.
‘We will see, we will have to do a scan and see but clearly it’s not good.’
‘When somebody goes off with a muscle injury it’s pretty rare that the doctor calls me the next morning and says: “false alarm – all fine!”‘