By support

8th Jan, 2017 | 4:38pm

Why Liverpool must start this centre-back against Southampton

By Emma Sanders

Liverpool must start Joe Gomez and Joel Matip at centre-back in the league cup semi-final against Southampton on Wednesday in preparation for their crucial clash against Manchester United later this month.

Gomez made his first appearance in 15 months when he was named in the starting XI for the 0-0 draw against Plymouth in the FA Cup on Sunday and his performance should earn him a start against the Saints.

The 19-year-old was one of the Reds’ best players in the disappointing draw and it’s clear he should be partnering Matip in defence for the rest of the Premier League campaign.

Jurgen Klopp should start the duo together for the first time on Wednesday so he can take a look at the partnership – and play them against Man United if they perform well.

Dejan Lovren has failed to produce the consistency he showed at Southampton since joining Liverpool for £20million in July 2014 and his tendency to lose focus could prove costly against United.

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The Croatian has made a number of high-profile errors in Liverpool’s defence and though he’s improved greatly this season, he will still be a weak link United will look to exploit.

Gomez has the pace and strength to shut out Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, and the youngster never loses his cool on big occasions like Lovren did against United in December 2014.

The centre-back was at fault for United’s third goal in a disappointing 3-0 loss and he was slated for his displays throughout the rest of the campaign as his Liverpool career did not get off to a good start.

Gomez started against Manchester United at Old Trafford last season after making just four previous appearances and despite his side losing 3-1, he was one of the brightest performers.

Alongside Matip, Gomez has the potential to build one of the best defensive partnerships in the Premier League and there’s no reason why Klopp should delay its introduction.

In other Liverpool news, fans slated Sheyi Ojo on Twitter for his display v Plymouth.