Liverpool: Rhys Williams to start v West Ham - videos show he can replace Virgil van Dijk


Fate has conspired cruelly against Liverpool in their bid to retain the Premier League title. 

The Reds might be joint second going into Saturday's fixtures, but that hasn't told the whole story. 

There have already been some plunging lows this season, not least the 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa. Jurgen Klopp can dismiss that as an aberration, but he's likely going to have a defensive headache for the rest of the season. 

Virgil van Dijk's ACL injury, sustained in that now infamous tackle by Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby, means the Dutch talisman is set to be ruled out for most of the campaign. 

And just when it looked like midfielder Fabinho was the man to switch to centre-half and fill the void, he himself was struck down in the Champions League. 

The Brazilian's hamstring injury is not as bad as first feared, but it will keep him out of today's game against West Ham, handing a first Premier League start to Rhys Williams. 

The 19-year-old, who was on loan at Kidderminster Harriers last season, came on as a substitute against FC Midtjylland and was very impressive. 

His journey has been incredible, not least because it was feared he wouldn't be tough enough for non-league football. 


Harriers manager Russell Penn told the Liverpool Echo: 

"Listen, I've got nothing against Under-23 football but it's a different sport at our level. 90 per cent of these loans never work.

"He came in, looking the part, and you're thinking oh my God, he's Virgil van Dijk in disguise!

"He's baby-faced, talks like a baby and everything, but I tell you what. He dived straight into it, rented a house with four other lads and was a really big part of the club straight away." 

At 6'3", Williams possesses a similar aerial prowess to Van Dijk, but he's much more than just what Martin Keown would call a "powerhorse in the air". 

So let's check out a few clips of what he can do: 

Perhaps what's most impressive about the English defender is his anticipation and reading of the game. 

It's that composure which should hold him in good stead in the Premier League. 

In truth, the moment Van Dijk was injured, Liverpool will have been looking ahead to January and considering their options - but depending on how Williams gets on, they may already have the answer within their ranks. 

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