Liverpool defender Joel Matip ready to replace injured Virgil van Dijk as he fires warning at rivals

David Lynch
Keeping it tight: Liverpool haven't conceded at home in the League since Februrary: David Blunsden/Action Plus

Joel Matip has insisted he is ready to step in for Virgil van Dijk should his teammate miss any of Liverpool’s upcoming games through the rib injury he is currently battling.

The Dutchman was forced off during the second half of the Reds’ 3-0 win over Southampton on Sunday after feeling a problem that Jurgen Klopp later admitted was present prior to the midweek victory against Paris Saint-Germain.

As a result of Van Dijk’s withdrawal, Joe Gomez emerged from the bench to partner Matip, who had been handed his first start of the season in the centre of defence.

And the former Cameroon international is prepared to reprise the partnership in the coming weeks if necessary.

“I’m ready, I will be there, but we all hope that he is fit and can play again,” he said.

“After this long time, after this injury, it feels great to start again and to play. It was a nice feeling to be on the field 90 minutes.

“It was quite a long time with the injury but now I’m fit and on a good way. I still need some time but [I’m] looking forward to the next game.”

Liverpool last conceded a league goal at Anfield during their 4-1 win over West Ham United on February 24 of this year.

And Matip is delighted that the Reds are turning their home ground into a fortress once more, though he believes there are still improvements to be made.

He added: “I think it should always be a fear to come to Anfield as an opposing team.

“But we are working hard to make it as uncomfortable as possible for the opponent and we are on a good way. I think nobody enjoys to play here.

“This season we conceded not many goals but the whole team was working for this. We are still improving and we are can still do it better but we are on a good way.”

The 27-year-old also reflected on his first home goal for Liverpool - a towering header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s first-half corner.

Forced off: Virgil van Dijk (AFP/Getty Images)

He continued: “I was not too lucky with scoring goals during my time at Liverpool but I hope that maybe this season I can score a few more goals.

“It always helps the team and helps me get self-confidence for the game.”