Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says that his players will be in a “different place” by the time next Sunday’s clash with Manchester United comes around.
The Reds have won only two of their last six Premier League matches, a significant drop-off from last season. Indeed, they suffered their second defeat of the season on Monday.
Liverpool have been beset with injury problems throughout the campaign. But while their defence remains an issue, they have welcomed numbers back into their midfield.
Thiago Alcantara, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all returned ahead of Friday’s FA Cup clash with Aston Villa.
The Reds then have an eight-day break before entertaining arch-rivals United at Anfield. As such, Klopp insists that his players will be raring to go for the Premier League clash.
Asked about his team news for Friday’s match, he said (via Liverpoolfc.com): “It’s difficult. The problem is that in times when a lot of players are injured, players come back and you try to get rhythm.
“But at the same time you have to win football games. So it’s not that easy and we need to find the balance to field a team. We cannot use the FA Cup to give players rhythm, the opponent is just too strong for that.
“But after the Aston Villa we have I think eight days before the Man Utd game.
“That is a long training week where we can really do a lot of stuff in 11 v 11 situations which will help a lot, especially the players who were out for a while.
“And after that we will be in a different place.”
Klopp also said that Joel Matip could return to face United. The Cameroonian suffered an adductor injury just after Christmas, leaving Klopp with no senior fit centre-backs.
Klopp points to Minamino progress
Attacker Takumi Minamino is one player who will likely play a part against Villa.
After scoring in the 7-0 rout of Crystal Palace, the Japan international has not played in any of the last three matches.
Asked to rate the forward’s first year at Anfield, Klopp said: “I don’t think it was a very difficult one but I know what you mean. You come in, new club and everybody thinks that you will score 20, 30, 40 goals.
“He is in really good shape, he developed and got used to it. He was a good player when we signed him but he’s got used to the intensity, the league and training and made big steps.
“We should think about involving him.”
Naby Keita and Diogo Jota remain sidelined with muscle and knee injuries, respectively.
Klopp was also asked about the potential addition of a new centre-back this month.