Jurgen Klopp has heaped praise on Liverpool back-room staff member Vitor Matos for helping the Reds cope with their injury crisis.
Liverpool have been plagued by injuries throughout the opening months of the season, with first-choice centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez suffering long-term injuries.
A host of other players have succumbed to more minor complaints, while the latest star set for a spell on the sidelines is Diogo Jota.
Matos’ efforts as elite development coach have been key to Liverpool’s navigation of the hectic schedule with a depleted squad.
Klopp recalled how Matos recommended promoting 19-year-old defender Rhys Williams – who has played a key role in the Reds’ Champions League campaign – to the first team in his glowing verdict on the Portuguese.
“We employed Vitor, not because the academy wasn’t working as well as we wished but because we needed a connecting point,” Klopp told Sky Sports .
“Pep [Lijnders] was doing that too but first-team coach is a big job; we needed someone in that development coach role who knows both sides and Vitor is doing an incredible job.
“When we had our first struggle with the centre-halves, he suggested Rhys.
It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!
All the latest transfer news and big stories will land straight into your inbox. You won’t miss out.
To sign up, put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.
“It helps to have someone with a proper eye on the academy and someone who knows what we need in a crisis. Yes, we need players but what kind of players?
“We want to give the boys a wide education. We want to know that they will be able to react later in their careers to different scenarios.
“Vitor is really important for the one-to-one relationships. Yes, up in the first team, we think we’re open and pretty friendly but it can take time for someone to really feel like they can show themselves.
“I’m not able to have those long talks each day with all of the boys. There will be a moment when it happens but it’s Vitor’s job to make sure that they know what to expect, that they know we think they’re good enough, that they understand the opportunity without feeling pressure.”
Matos joined Liverpool last year from Porto, where he had worked alongside now-Liverpool assistant boss Lijnders.
Which Liverpool academy graduate has been the most impressive this season? Have your say here.
Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.