Liverpool’s major Trent Alexander-Arnold problem exposed by Andy Robertson and Ki-Jana Hoever

Andy Robertson suffered injury against Athletic Club, but there is cover in Kostas Tsimikas. A Trent Alexander-Arnold injury would spell disaster for Liverpool.

No doubt the hearts of Liverpool fans skipped a beat when Andy Robertson went off injured during the pre-season friendly against Athletic Club.

Robertson had to be taken off and medical examinations revealed the Scottish international had damaged ankle ligaments.

Thankfully, the damage isn’t as bad as many had feared, with some initially believing that he may have broken his ankle.

“Thanks to everyone for the kind messages and support,” Robertson tweeted. “Scan suggests nothing too major but there’s some ligament damage, which will need to mend.

“I will be grafting every day so I can help the team again sooner rather than later. Good luck to the boys playing tonight #YNWA.”

It’s reported that Robertson will be out for weeks, rather than months. Furthermore, with Greek left-back Kostas Tsimikas shining in pre-season, the Scot’s absence, whilst big, isn’t as detrimental to the starting XI as it would have been had the injury occurred on the opposite flank.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is essentially the club’s only natural right-back, and this is a problem for the club. Youth product Neco Williams can operate in the position but is only 20 years old, has little in the way of first team experience and splits opinion in terms of his level.

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Alexander-Arnold missed two games last season due to a calf injury, and such was the lack of options in the position that James Milner had to play in the role during the 3-0 win against Leicester. Milner wasn’t overly convincing in the role; for the following game against Brighton, Williams was given the nod to play at right-back.

It’s an area of the pitch that the club haven’t invested in for a number of years. Milner has had to deputise for Alexander-Arnold at right-back previously, having done so on a couple of occasion during the 2018/19 season, when the number 66 was ruled out for a period of time with a knee injury.

Even Jordan Henderson filled in at right-back for a game – the 1-1 draw against Leicester in January 2019.

Nathaniel Clyne was the last recognised senior right-back at Liverpool not called Alexander-Arnold, but the former Southampton player was sold to Bournemouth during the winter transfer window in 2019 as he found playing time difficult to come by.

Ki-Jana Hoever, who was highly rated and had graduated through the youth academy at Ajax at right-back, was sold to Wolves at the beginning of last season. There was recognition that with Alexander-Arnold the clear first choice, Hoever was going to play little.

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Hoever was let go for £9 million – plus bonuses – with a 15% sell-on clause, but not a buyback option, in case he exploded at Wolves. After a bedding-in season, there are promising signs that the Dutch prospect could really emerge in the coming campaign.

Yet even with only Alexander-Arnold and Williams remaining at the club, it is still unlikely that Liverpool will invest in bringing in another back-up right-back.

A Gini Wijnaldum replacement is still a priority, and with the transfer budget restricted due to the club’s inability to auction off several of the fringe players at the club, any money will go towards midfield, and not right-back.

In an ideal world, Liverpool would have someone in the Tsimikas mould to deputise for Alexander-Arnold. The answer could yet be Neco Williams — it might have been Hoever, but only time will tell. One thing’s for sure, though: whatever the question, Milner or Henderson as auxiliary right-back is not the answer.

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