Daniel Sturridge’s latest injury setback bad news for Liverpool
Stoke City poised to pose a big threat to Jurgen Klopp’s side in League Cup semi-final
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with striker Daniel Sturridge. Photograph: John Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images
The England international was put on an individual training programme after suffering a hamstring strain against Newcastle United on December 6th – his third injury during Klopp’s brief reign as Liverpool manager.
Sturridge declared himself “back in training and good to go” following the St Stephen’s Day win over Leicester City and Klopp had hoped the striker would be available for Saturday’s Premier League game at West Ham United.
However, despite the recent positive updates, the 26-year-old has been unable to complete his training schedule without interruption and will not be considered for tonight’s semi-final first leg tis at revitalised Stoke City.
Klopp confirmed: “Daniel has had some problems, not serious, but he could not make all the sessions and we had to wait a day. It is how a pre-season can be. Some little things happen and we have to handle this. It is not a row of sessions and we say ‘Now we are here and go . . .’ I will pick him when he is ready, I will not hold him back. But he has not had one session with the team so he is not available.”
Liverpool remain desperate for Sturridge’s quality in front of goal – their current tally of 22 from 20 league games is the lowest in the club’s history – but Klopp insists he must maintain a long-term view with the injury-plagued forward.
“What Daniel has to do at this moment is hard work to be prepared for the things we make in a football game. He has not had a complete pre-season in a long time. In pre-season we load our bodies with strength, energy, all we need for the games and then the problems start,” the manager added.
“It would be easy for me to say, ‘Come on, let’s try, we have problems, we don’t score enough goals, let’s see what will happen’ but we have to wait and be patient.”
Despite the paucity of penetration up front there is absolutely no prospect of Anfield misfit Mario Balotelli being recalled from his loan spell at AC Milan after agent Mino Raiola said he wanted to speak to Klopp about the Italian’s possible return for next season.
“At this moment I don’t have the time or capacity to think about things for next summer,” said Klopp.
“Maybe we will have a talk but it is nothing I can think about in this moment.”
Injuries continue to dog Klopp with Jordan Henderson likely to sit out the first leg at Stoke after a recurrence of a foot problem which caused him to miss the West Ham defeat.
“The tendon in the foot is painful but it is good and we hope when the blood is out of the foot the situation will be solved,” Klopp said.
“It is not possible to train or play but we hope it is not serious. We have to wait, we cannot do any more.”
Under Mark Hughes Stoke have become more focused on attacking football, although they have scored only 21 league goals themselves, and Klopp is an admirer of the turnaround his opposite number has achieved.
“Mark Hughes does a brilliant job there. Good scouting in the summer, maybe the biggest change in football is how Stoke played a few months or years ago and how they are playing now. That is really good,” said the German.
Ironically, the old Stoke way of playing would probably have caused Liverpool just as many problems as the Reds’ vulnerability in the air was exposed again at West Ham as they conceded both goals from far-post crosses.
It is an area which has been exploited regularly by opponents and one Klopp acknowledges they are weak in.
Klopp is two matches away from Wembley, where he last visited as Borussia Dortmund manager when they lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich in the 2013 Champions League final, and has impressed on his players the significance of seeing things through to the end.
“It is always important because if you have the chance and you don’t try to go for it then it is a waste of time,” he said.