Jurgen Klopp has the perfect chance to experiment with Liverpool fringe man after new role hint

The Reds have a dead rubber against Porto in the Champions League and Neco Williams is one of the players who could be handed a rare start.

Liverpool youngster Neco Williams. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

It's an opportunity for Jurgen Klopp to experiment a few things he wouldn't usually be afforded.

A dead rubber for Liverpool which they never expected they'd have.

Sign up to our LiverpoolWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sure, Klopp wants to win the Reds' Champions League clash with Porto tonight and continue the momentum after putting Arsenal to the sword on Saturday.

But with top spot in Group B and a place in the last 16 already secured, the Liverpool boss has the scope to try a couple of things should he wish.

A tactical tweak here, a positional change there. It's the ideal chance to do so.

There is one player, in particular, who could benefit.

Williams opportunity

Klopp's likely to rest some of his key players and hand those on the fringes much-needed minutes. It'll be an audition to impress.

Neco Williams has again been on the periphery of things this season. He's played just three times so far and it's led to his Wales manager, Rob Page, calling for the 20-year-old to leave Anfield on loan in January.

Naturally, if Williams is to play, you'd expect him to come in for Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back. It'd make the most sense.

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

However, Klopp's recent comments suggest it might not be in defence where he sees Williams' future.

Speaking last week ahead of the Arsenal game, he said: 'Neco's a young player, and he plays at Liverpool, which is a pretty good football team. It's not that easy to get in the first team – maybe in his natural position.

'I'm not sure if right-back really is his natural position, but if it is there's Trent Alexander-Arnold."

New role

So where might Williams' natural position be if not at full-back? And who might he replace?

The potential answer: either Sadio Mane or Mo Salah in the front three.

No Kopite would be averse to either given a spell of respite against Porto. It'd be the pragmatic thing to do.

The obvious option is for either Takumi Minamino or Divock Origi to play on the flank.

However, Williams' recent outings underline he could be an option.

The academy product's last Liverpool appearance came in the 2-0 win over Preston in the Carabao Cup.

Liverpool youngster Neco Williams. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

He started at right-back but it was when he was pushed further forward in the second half following the introduction of Conor Bradley when he made an impact.

Williams' intelligent run ensured he collected Tyler Morton's lofted pass. He then drove into the area and pulled back a cross to assist Minamino's 62nd-minute opener.

Williams then played a major part in Origi's 84th-minute goal by reacting quickest to Kostas Tsimikas' cross that hit the bar. Williams shock was blocked before Origi nonchalantly flicked home.

International exploits

And during the international break earlier this month, Williams also played in an advanced role.

He featured at left wing-back in a 5-1 win over Belarus and a 1-1 draw against Belgium.

In the latter, Williams was on target with a second career goal for the Dragons.

His heatmap compiled by Wyscout displays how far forward he was playing and spend significant periods in the Belarus box.

Neco Williams’ Wales heatmap in their 5-1 win over Belarus. Picture: Wyscout

Given the quality of Belgium - who are the world’s best team according to FIFA rankings - Williams' regular positions were unsurprisingly not as aggressive.

However, his expected goals total - which is the probability that a shot will result in a goal based on the characteristics of that shot and the events leading up to it - was 0.27.

Williams had one shot blocked and produced a fine late save from Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois which denied Wales what would have been a famous victory.

Neco Williams went close to grabbing a winner for Wales in their 1-1 draw with Belgium. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

AFCON alternative

When Salah and Mane head off to the African Cup of Nations in January, Liverpool are going to have to come up with a way of replacing them. It’ll be an almost impossible challenge, all right.

Recruiting is one option for Klopp, with Wolves loanee Hwang Hee-chan linked with a move to Anfield.

However, the Reds may instead look to promote from within.

The answer may already be in front of them. They have the ideal chance to run the rule over Williams and judge if he's capable of stepping up.