Jarell Quansah is ready to step up amid Liverpool injury concerns

"Before this season, people told us we should buy a centre-half. We knew we had Jarell," said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp after another impressive outing from the youngster.

Liverpool had just dismantled LASK in the Europa League at Anfield, beating their Austrian opponents 4-0. A clean sheet may have flattered the Reds, but another delightful display from Jarell Quansah had caught the eye.

The 20-year-old has been one of the many success stories at Anfield this season, coming out of relative anonymity to feature prominently for the Reds.

The Warrington-born centre-back spent the second half of last season on loan at Bristol Rovers. Quansah had featured 16 times for the League One outfit, accumulating useful experience in the process, but there wasn't a sense that he was a player that was soon to burst on to the scene - at least from the outside.

However, after a solid pre-season under Klopp's guidance, Quansah has emerged as a supreme talent at Anfield.

The defender has been a regular in Klopp's Europa League side, starting three of Liverpool's five group stage games, while he has also donned a red jersey on four occasions in the Premier League. That included a start and an impressive performance in a 3-1 league victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers back in September.

It's fair to say that Quansah is yet to be tested against an elite team. Bar a cameo against Newcastle United earlier this season, he has generally been utilised in Liverpool's more winnable fixtures. Therefore, it's perhaps tough to know just how good he really is.

However, we may soon find out.

Joel Matip added his name to a growing Liverpool injury list during the 4-3 victory over Fulham on Sunday, the centre-back substituted with a little over 20 minutes remaining.

While Klopp is yet to fully discover the extent of Matip's fitness concerns, he admitted after the clash with the Cottagers that it's likely the former Schalke man will be out for some time.

Liverpool do have Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez to call on in the heart of the defence, although the latter has been more frequently used at full-back this term, but the hectic upcoming fixture list can serve as a true test of Quansah's credentials.

The Reds will face Manchester United, Arsenal twice and Newcastle United all before mid-January, with matches against Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and Burnley in the Premier League thrown in for good measure. Let's not forget that there is also one last Europa League group game to play, albeit there is nothing riding on it, and a Carabao Cup quarter-final against West Ham on the horizon.

With Gomez likely to be utilised on the left or right-hand side of defence as Klopp rotates his side amid the constant stream of football, and Konate a constant injury concern, Quansah will need to be relied upon.

But, in more high-profile fixtures, can he rise to the occasion?

Let's take a closer look at Quansah's performance against Wolves earlier this season in what was a mightily impressive first Premier League start.

The centre-back was involved in the most defensive actions of any Liverpool player on that day (10) and the second most of any player in the game. He also completed all three of his tackles, more than any other Red at Molineux.

There were a joint match-high two interceptions and five clearances for the youngster, while Quansah also won five duels - as many as any Liverpool player.

On the ball, Quansah was similarly commanding. A 96% pass accuracy from 80 passes was the highest of any starter, while he also completed all three of his long balls.

As Klopp has referenced previously, Quansah lived up to his 'Virgil 2.0' nickname.

The truth of the matter is that Quansah is unlikely to feature in games against Man Utd or Arsenal just yet, but against teams of a lower calibre - the likes of Wolves - Quansah can be an incredibly useful weapon for Klopp.

While there is always clamour among fans for shiny new signings that are ready-made to start 40 games a season, the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones have shown that the pathway from the academy to the first team can be a successful one.

It may be tempting to splash £52m on Goncalo Inacio in the January transfer window but that will undoubtedly block that pathway for Quansah.

With games coming thick and fast over the next few months, Quansah has earned his opportunity.

The 20-year-old has all the attributes required of a top-class centre-back - pace, power, tactical intelligence, great technical ability - and it's up to Klopp and his coaching staff to polish this diamond.

For Quansah, this period could be definitive in his Liverpool career. So, let the lad play.

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