Liverpool fans must show faith in January signing Steven Caulker

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Much to Jurgen Klopp's annoyance, he's been forced to play his hand during the January transfer window.

Although the German was adamant he would bring no new faces to Anfield over the winter, Liverpool's long injury list has left him with no choice but to do so.

The number of centre-back's at his disposal is particularly worrying, with Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel all sidelined.


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Tiago Ilori, who ended his loan deal with Aston Villa early, also limped off injured during last Friday's 2-2 draw with Exeter City in the FA Cup.

As a result, Klopp has brought in Steven Caulker on loan from Queens Park Rangers as temporary defensive cover until the end of the season.

The one-time England international's signing has been met by discontent from Liverpool fans due to their rich history of January signings, previously capturing Luis Suarez and Javier Mascherano during the winter window.

For Klopp, though, desperate times called for desperate measures.

Given that Liverpool have no guarantee of Champions League football next term, it was near-impossible that one of Europe's best centre-backs would move to the Merseyside outfit midway through the season.

The thought of Klopp stealing away Mats Hummels or Neven Subotic from former employers Borussia Dortmund appealed to Kopites, yet these moves were always a long shot.

BVB sit second in the Bundesliga and, although they face an uphill task to pip Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title, boss Thomas Tuchel will have wanted to keep his tight-knit bunch together.

On the face of it, therefore, Caulker looks the best available option.

Against Exeter, Klopp was forced to give Jose Enrique his first senior start for almost a year in the heart of defence. The Spaniard, with the exception of an impending FA Cup replay, has likely played his last game for Liverpool after a poor performance.

The 48-year-old Klopp will want a big push from now until the end of the season. Still in all three cup competitions and with an outside chance of reaching the top four, the eccentric German will hope his side can muster some kind of momentum.

Experience is vital if they're to achieve this. The temptation of calling up a youngster from the academy would have been there, but the leap would likely be too much.

Liverpool have conceded far too many soft goals this campaign - both of West Ham's in their 2-0 victory came from basic crosses that exposed the Reds' frailties.

Caulker struggled to break into Ronald Koeman's Southampton whilst on loan for the first half of the season.

However, he was a regular for both QPR and Cardiff City and has been the result of over £20 million in transfer fees.

Granted, the 24-year-old was relegated with both teams and the money spent on him is questionable, but regardless, he's an experienced defender who can deputise in the rearguard at a time of turmoil.

With over 100 Premier League appearances to his name, Caulker will at least be used to the pace and physicality of England's top flight.

Standing at 6 ft. 3, the former Tottenham Hotspur man also gives Klopp the option of height. Ilori, who stands the same, was strong in the air against Exeter and mopped up any aerial threats - and Caulker could offer the same.

Although fans would have liked a star to arrive on Merseyside, they must get behind their loan signing, who appears set to make his debut against Arsenal on Wednesday night.

The Englishman will likely be rusty and nervous having made just eight appearances for the Saints this season, the last coming against Liverpool themselves during a thumping 6-1 defeat - and fans getting on his back isn't going to help.

Kopites must give Caulker their full backing and, under Klopp's stewardship, he could well grow into the player many thought he would become as a youngster. Lovren's form has improved somewhat under Klopp and the club's new signing could be the next to benefit.

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Steven Gerrard
Premier League

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