There has been too much doom and gloom at Anfield over Virgil van Dijk. The injury to Liverpool’s stand-out presence over the past two years is a severe blow but good sides survive the loss of even their best players. Great teams rise to the challenge. Fabinho, who will now be deployed in the back four, is crucial to Liverpool’s prospects. The Brazilian is used to performing a role where he has to curb his natural instincts. Because of the balance of the team, Jurgen Klopp’s midfielders have had to restrain their attacking inclinations. In the past two years it was more important for the central trio to provide a platform for the wing backs to get forward than express themselves. In different tactical set-ups, Fabinho’s creativity could come to the fore more often but the former Monaco star has been happy to put aside personal glory for the good of the team. One of the reasons that Liverpool were attracted to Fabinho is his versatility. Being able to play in a range of positions is as much a mindset as a skill set. In the Champions League group match away to Ajax this week, the auxiliary centre back was the side’s best player. Beside him, Joe Gomez was tentative; behind him, Adrian was twitchy, transmitting nervousness to the outfield players. Yet Fabinho was a calming influence, making vital interceptions and spotting potential danger before it developed. The situation is not ideal for either player or team. No one in the squad comes anywhere close to matching Van Dijk’s power in the air. Fabinho was shrugged off too easily by Michael Keane for Everton’s first equaliser in the derby at Goodison last week. Aerial balls will present a problem over the coming weeks. Sheffield United will put the defence under examination with crosses tomorrow night at Anfield. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson may have to pay a little more attention to the defensive side of their game to stop high balls into the box from out wide. There will need to be a measure of adjustment and Fabinho is equipped to adapt better than most, especially in a division where scatterbrained defending is not unusual. Liverpool must sign defender to replace injured Virgil van Dijk, says Jamie Carragher Liverpool’s problems have been exacerbated by Alisson Becker ’s absence. The goalkeeper is back in training after hurting a shoulder and could return by the end of the month. The 28-year-old radiates composure and is a superb communicator with the back four. Klopp may have lost the finest centre back in the Premier League for the season but he still has the best goalkeeper. It is understandable that Liverpool are angry about the Jordan Pickford challenge that left Van Dijk needing an operation but the continuing controversy has not done the club any favours. It highlights the importance of the centre back to the team and hands psychological advantage to rivals. The next time a Liverpool player is involved in an incident that causes serious injury to an opponent there will be a firestorm of criticism and accusations of hypocrisy directed towards Anfield. Football is a physical game and there will inevitably be injuries. The message will be noted across the Premier League: get rugged with the champions Georginio Wijnaldum was particularly forthright before the Ajax game, complaining that Pickford’s rash attempt to get the ball was “stupid” and claiming that Everton take physicality “way too far” in derbies. The message will be noted across the Premier League: get rugged with the champions. A better tactic might have been to keep the hurt and rancour in-house and show no sign of weakness to the wider world. Van Dijk’s situation throws up questions about Liverpool’s policy in the transfer market over the past two summers. After winning the Champions League and the title in successive seasons, the club have not strengthened as significantly as some expected. Dejan Lovren was allowed to leave in July and no replacement brought in to bolster central defence. No panic at Liverpool after Villa rout – Reds have a history of recovering well from thrashings Any criticism is informed by hindsight. Lovren’s departure left the squad a man short in the defensive department but the constraints of financial fair play and the knock-on financial effect of the pandemic mean it is unfeasible for the club to have quality replacements for each individual. Given Van Dijk’s long-term prognosis, bringing in a central defender will be a priority in the coming transfer window but Fabinho was always at the centre of the contingency plans and ready to slot into the defence in worst-case scenarios. Any injury offers opportunities to other squad members. The impact of Van Dijk’s absence may be mitigated by the incorporation of Thiago Alcantara into the side . The former Bayern Munich playmaker was always going to be an instrumental part of the team this season but the tweaks Klopp will need to apply to the system to adapt to the Dutchman’s loss could mean that Thiago’s development as the fulcrum of the side will be hastened. Another whose role might be expanded is Naby Keita. The 25-year-old is in his third season at Anfield and has never lived up to expectations after arriving from RB Leipzig. The Guinean has been recovering from Covid-19 . He has struggled to adapt to the physical nature of the English game and needs to impose himself on the Premier League . The set-up of Liverpool’s midfield never really suited Keita but Thiago changes the dynamic of the team. The next few months might be the making of Keita. There are still plenty of reasons for optimism at Anfield. The team need to put aside the 7-2 thrashing by Aston Villa – Van Dijk was on the pitch that night – and the disappointments of Goodison Park and get back on track in the league. Klopp has options and Liverpool are still the side to beat .