Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is not keen on change for change’s sake but he has hinted that he could be ready to let midfielder Naby Keita loose for a run in the team.
The Guinea international has endured a stop-start beginning to his Liverpool career since joining in the summer of 2018, managing just 37 appearances so far with injuries hampering his progress.
However, he once again showed a glimpse of what he can offer the side with a 10-minute cameo – having recovered from a muscle injury sustained in the European Super Cup – in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford which had a decisive effect in securing a point.
Keita likes to run with the ball and so gives drive from midfield, something Klopp’s preferred three of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum lack.
And he could get an outing in the Champions League tie in Genk as that midfield trio looked jaded on Sunday, although Klopp has to balance that with the knowledge he already has to change two of his back four with Trent Alexander-Arnold (illness) and Joel Matip (knee) both set to be replaced by Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren.
“We have to have the right mindset. Yes it is a very intense period. Some of my players have already played 17 games with internationals – that is half a season in Germany,” he said.
“That is no problem, we are not tired, not at all, but we have to change two positions already and let’s see what we can do on top of that.
“It is never just for changing. It is always being best prepared for our next opponent.”
Asked specifically about when they will see the best of Keita the German added: “Soon. Naby is one-and-a-half or two weeks in full training. He looks good and that is why he played (against United).
“In training, I see it a lot, so that was the best news. It will not be long.”
Klopp’s first priority, however, it to arrest their woeful away record in the Champions League group stage.
They have lost the last four, scoring only once, and have not won any of the last five with their latest victory on the road in Europe in the group stage at Maribor two years ago.
That success in Slovenia remains their only win in the last 10 away group matches.
Liverpool scraped through last season with a 1-0 win over Napoli in their final home game, three Anfield victories giving them nine points and second place in their group.
“Last year we were lucky with how tight the group was that we could lose three times away and still have a chance to make it through the group. That will not happen this year. It’s completely different.
🔴 Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool:— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 8, 2019
“We don’t rely on home games or whatever. Obviously we like to say European nights at Anfield are really special but other teams can make a special atmosphere as well.
“They are not all the same. We could have won away games to be honest performance-wise which we didn’t win for some reason.
“We know it’s not historically good what we have done (in the away group games) in the last few years, but in general, the Champions League was obviously really good.
“We did the right things in the right moment but we don’t rely on these things. We know we have to improve and we try again and again and again until it works out.”
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