Liverpool midfielder Fabinho’s versatility could become a key factor for manager Jurgen Klopp over the next few weeks.
The Brazil international has filled in at centre-back in the last two matches because of injury to Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez.
Matip is almost back to full fitness, having been an unused substitute in Saturday’s win at Brighton, but just as one defender returns another, Trent Alexander-Arnold, has been sidelined for up to a month with a knee injury.
Midfielder James Milner is expected to cover at home to Crystal Palace this weekend but Fabinho, who plays right-back for his country, is another option.
That is in addition to his growing value in midfield, where after a slow start he has started to put in some good performances.
But when the call came to drop into defence it was no surprise to the Brazilian.
What'd you think of this man's performance today, America? Show us in a gif!January 12, 2019
“Some weeks ago, I knew this could be an option because we had some players out injured and we only had two centre-backs available,” Fabinho told Liverpoolfc.com.
“When Dejan got injured, I knew it would be logical that I’d play in that position.
“I had some training sessions playing in that position, which helped me adapt better and pick up certain aspects, like positioning and movements you need to be natural at to play in this position.
🇧🇷🤜🤛🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/QPlidR0Jp8— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 16, 2019
“In the last game against Brighton, I think I played well. Playing alongside (Virgil) Van Dijk helped, he’s really vocal, he guided us. He helped me a lot.
“In this position, which I haven’t played in a lot, I think I adapted well. There are some aspects, such as positioning, that I need to improve on.
“If I were to play in this position more, I’d improve on these things, but that’s natural.”
Having had to wait until mid-September for his debut, the £44million summer signing has featured in the last nine matches, starting six.
Klopp had a similar acclimatisation period with Andy Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season and that proved to pay dividends and Fabinho is now looking to progress quickly.
“The relationship with the coach is good, he has a different way of speaking to each player." @_fabinhotavares on Klopp's guidance, his centre-back role and how it felt to score his first Reds goal. 🔴👇— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 17, 2019
“Of course, playing more and getting more minutes is going to lead to my confidence growing,” he added.
“The chemistry on the field between players has been improving. The more you play, the more natural these things become and I hope I can keep on being important for the team.
“The relationship with the coach is good. He understands things about us, things we need to improve on.”
- Press Association