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Men's Football Henderson backs Liverpool to cope without van Dijk

JORDAN HENDERSON has backed Liverpool to cope in Virgil van Dijk’s absence when they take on Bayern Munich at Anfield tonight — and declared himself ready to play at centre-back if asked.

Key man Van Dijk will be missing from the Reds’ defence for the Champions League last-16 first leg as he serves a one-match suspension.

Dejan Lovren (hamstring) is a doubt while Joe Gomez (broken leg) is sidelined, and boss Juergen Klopp may deploy midfielder Fabinho alongside Joel Matip in central defence.

Reds captain Henderson said of Van Dijk today: “Of course, he is a massive miss. I think you can see how important he is for us as a team.

“But at the same time I feel as though we have enough quality in the team to be able to cope with it tomorrow night.

“And it is not just relying on our two centre-halves to defend — it is up to the whole team to defend really, and we do it together.

“So whoever plays there, I am sure they will know the role and what’s expected of them.”

The England midfielder, who filled in at right-back in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Leicester on January 30, was then asked if he would be confident to play as a central defender if called upon to do so.

And Henderson said: “Yes. Obviously I would give it everything, and I would be ready.

“When I spoke to the manager about playing full-back, it wasn’t really a question of ‘could I play there?’ It was a question of ‘would I be confident and ready to be able to play there?’ And I said ‘of course.’

“Whether it’s centre-half, right-back, anywhere on the pitch — wherever I’m asked to play, I’ll always be ready to play football and give everything for the team.”

Liverpool — currently second in the Premier League, behind Manchester City on goal difference with a game in hand — were beaten in last season’s Champions League final by Real Madrid, who had defeated Bayern in the semi-finals.

Henderson added: “They [Bayern] are a world-class team and we know it will be tough, but we are confident that if we can play the way we know we can, we can cause them problems.

“I think the amount of big games, especially in the Champions League, we played last year can only help us going into this one.

“It’s not about favouring one competition.

“We feel as though we have got a good enough squad to be able to challenge in both competitions [the Premier League and the Champions League] as best we can and hopefully at the end of the season we can say we are champions of at least one, if not both.”

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