Pundit: This defender has held Liverpool together

Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol believes the Reds need Joel Matip back in their defence

Joel Matip has held the Liverpool defence together this season, according to Steve Nicol.

The retired Cameroon international hasn’t started a Liverpool game since a 2-2 draw with West Ham United at Anfield in early December.

Matip returned from an ankle injury earlier this month but the centre-half wasn’t included in Liverpool’s side for their 1-1 draw with Manchester United due to uncertainty surrounding his availability under Fifa rules.

The 25-year-old was called up to the Cameroon squad for the Africa Cup of Nations but the defender snubbed the invitation which led to questions about his eligibility to play for Liverpool.

Matip was signed in a free transfer from Bundesliga outfit Schalke 04 in the summer as Klopp looked to bolster his Liverpool defence following their eighth-place finish last term.

Speaking to ESPN FC, former Liverpool defender Nicol highlighted the impact that Matip’s absence has had on Klopp’s team.

“He’s the guy that’s really held them together, in my opinion, when he’s played and he doesn’t start. It makes no sense,” Nicol said.

“Liverpool are fantastic going forward. Jurgen Klopp, no question, knows what he’s doing going that way, but there has to be questions about what’s happening defensively.”

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Liverpool are in fourth place in the Premier League table and 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.

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