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17 November 2017, 12:50
Joe Gomez is good enough to remain at Liverpool for the "next 15 years", according to Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.
Gomez has been in impressive form for Liverpool since the start of the season and the 20-year-old produced a man-of-the-match performance against Brazil on his full debut for England on Monday.
The former Charlton youngster excelled as part of a back three alongside John Stones and Harry Maguire at Wembley - prompting calls for Gomez to start at centre-back when Southampton visit Anfield on Saturday afternoon.
Klopp has suggested he will start Gomez at right-back against the Saints, with Nathaniel Clyne currently sidelined, but the German insists the England international is good enough for both roles.
When asked if Gomez is ready to play regularly as a centre-back, Klopp said: "There is no doubt about that. Joe knows about his little issues but he is still a young lad.
"He has to improve in a lot of parts but of course he is ready. He is a fantastic player.
"He was injured in a time in his life when people are still growing and that is a medical thing. We want to have him for the next 15 years, hopefully.
"Was he a professional player at Charlton? Okay, so he is not a one-team player but we want to have him here for a long, long time.
"I want to use him. He is ready but he can play at full-back as well. That is very good for us."
Adam Lallana could return to face former club Southampton this weekend after recovering from a long-term hamstring injury.
Klopp expects the England international to feature against the Saints but has ruled out playing Lallana for the entirety of the match.
"He is a fantastic player. It is the same that I said about Joe, we want to have him for the full season," said Klopp.
"This is the moment when the player wants to be back immediately and I am that guy who has to say, 'not today, maybe tomorrow'. It's not too nice, but it's completely normal and I only do it for the club and him.
"We will see, it depends how the other players are. We will use him for sure. Bring him on for 90 minutes - absolutely not. That's not a good idea."
Liverpool played Southampton four times last season without registering a single goal and Klopp is expecting another tough test against the Saints, who are managed by former Reds defender Mauricio Pellegrino.
"I don't care how long that we didn't score but I know how difficult it will be to win against Southampton but it is still possible," said Klopp.
"There is nothing that should hold us back. We have pretty much a full squad, of course it is after the international break but we will be well prepared for this game."