By Marc Isaacs
BRIGHTON, England (Reuters) - Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he was forced to name a makeshift defence just 24 hours before his side recorded an emphatic 5-1 victory over Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday.
Klopp was down to the bare bones after Joel Matip was ruled out with a thigh injury, while Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan were missing through illness.
The Liverpool manager had no choice but to play Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum at the back for the first time since he took charge of the Merseyside club two years ago.
His players showed their quality once again, however, to maintain their impressive run of form which has seen them record five wins from their last six Premier League games to keep the pressure on their rivals in the top four.
"We had no idea we were going to have to line up like this until yesterday's meeting and I'm pleased for the boys," Klopp said. "We had big problems with the line-up and all of them were centre-halves.
“We had to make big decisions but the boys did really well. Our line-up surprised everybody. It's a good moment that we can do things like this. They adapted and did the job.
“We need to adapt with plenty of different systems. That's how it should be. The formation fitted really well with wing-backs and we needed to be patient.
“You look at the dressing room after the game –- it was hard for the boys. We now play a very important game on Wednesday (in the Champions League) and then on Sunday the (Merseyside) derby. It is the life of players.”
Liverpool have hit form at just the right time and have now scored 15 goals in their last four away games. They are 11 points behind leaders Manchester City.
Klopp, though, is refusing to get carried away with his side's impressive unbeaten run and says it is vital for them to keep picking up points and stay close to the teams at the top of the table.
“Results-wise it looks like we are flying but we are not," the German said.
“We are a really good football team but we need to carry on. I am much more interested in the next game. We need the points and we want to be in this situation and stay as close as possible to the teams in front of us.
“We cannot get to them immediately as they have won a lot of games but we want to be as close as possible. It is great for me to have these options.
“It is always good to have this quality from set-pieces. We had two good ones and it was exceptional. The third goal was fantastic on the counter-attack. It was not a penalty but we finished the game smartly.”
(Editing by Clare Fallon)