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Mark Lawrenson’s damning critique of Joel Matip as he makes Liverpool demand

Mark Lawrenson insists Liverpool must sign a new centre-back because Joel Matip is "like a willow tree" which regularly "gets blown over".

The Reds are in the midst of a defensive injury crisis with first-choice centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez ruled out for many months with serious knee injuries.

Back-up option Fabinho is also sidelined with a thigh injury and faces a race to return to fitness by the end of the international break.

This leaves Matip as Liverpool's only available senior option at centre-back, though the 29-year-old has suffered many injuries of his own during his four years at Anfield.

While Lawrenson sees Matip as a "decent player", he believes his injury record is a cause for concern which makes it imperative the Reds sign a new option in January.

“Joe is a very, very important player," Lawrenson told talkSPORT . "Obviously with Virgil van Dijk out, it would be Joe Gomez and another.

“The thing with Joe Gomez is he’s had his operation straight away and they’re already saying he’ll miss most of the season, but that sounds to me really that he might just make it back towards the end.

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“And Matip is a decent player but he’s like a willow tree; he occasionally gets blown over and he’s not fit for two or three weeks, so he’s another worry.

“Some of the younger players have come in and they’ve done absolutely fine, but I think you’re looking at Matip, if fit, with the likes of Fabinho or maybe even Henderson [playing in defence] at some stage.

“But I would think it will force the manager’s hand in the January transfer window.

Is Lawrenson's criticism of Matip fair? Have your say here.

“He’s going to have to go out and buy somebody, and it won’t be a difficult conversation with the owners. They’ll realise what’s going on; the great thing about them is they’ve got this sporting franchise in America and they know people lose form and get injured, so it’s case of who he’s going to bring in.

“We’re all going to play the game now going into January – who are Liverpool going to sign?”

Despite the injuries to key personnel, Lawrenson predicts his former side will be able to cope for the most part.

He added: “We will see a difference, they will lose the odd game. I think the problem will be teams will just load balls into the box because they don’t have the domination of Van Dijk and Gomez.

“But as we know, I think this season there’s going to be four or five, maybe even six, teams pushing to win the league, so it might not be the worst season to have injuries.

“In fairness to Liverpool, if you look at the front three they’ve hardly missed any games, so you always know eventually you’ll have a season where you get lots of injures, it’s just how you cope with it.”

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