Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder insists he has nothing but admiration for the "incredibly talented" Jurgen Klopp following the public spat between the two managers earlier this season.
Wilder said the Liverpool boss was being selfish when he advocated a return of the five substitutes rule, believing it would give those with much bigger squads and resources an advantage, and later described the German as a "world-class politician".
Klopp then responded with several jibes at Wilder in his media interviews, including pointing out that the Blades only had one point on the board at the time.
The pair will meet for the first time since that war of words in November when Liverpool travel to Bramall Lane on Sunday evening.
Ahead of the Premier League clash, Wilder insisted: "The relationship is absolutely fine.0:40 Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder's side are bottom of the Premier League ahead of their game with Liverpool and admits his team has missed having the support of their fans at Bramall Lane this season
"I've got nothing but admiration for Jurgen, he's a top-class manager. That's what happens, people talk and things get said. If I was precious about things being said I wouldn't be doing this job.
"If I took notice of people in the media and what the majority have said through my time as a manager I don't think I would be sat here and I think that's the same for the manager at Liverpool.
"He's an incredibly talented manager, he's a winner and we all try to win. He has done that in incredible fashion. Heat of the moment, or whatever.2:50 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Fulham's win over Sheffield United in the Premier League
"I didn't take it personal, and I have moved on and for me to worry about stuff like that is way down the pecking order."
The Blades, bottom of the table with just three league wins this campaign, head into the weekend's round of fixtures 14 points from safety, with only 13 matches left to bridge the gap.Wilder: One of the hardest periods I've been through
It has been a season of struggle for Wilder's side, who finished ninth last term on their return to the Premier League, and he admits there have been times when he has felt more like a counsellor than a football manager.
"These players have swum the channel to get in the position they are," said Wilder, who has shared winning the League One title and promotion from the Championship with many of the players in his current squad over the past five years.Image: Sheffield United are now 11 points behind Fulham following defeat at Craven Cottage
"I'm not going to smash them over the head. I support them. Sometimes, what they have done in such a short period of time, is overlooked a bit. We want more.
"Am I being a counsellor as much as a manager? Yes, it seems that way, because we are trying to keep spirits high and positive.
"It's one of the hardest periods I've been through in my managerial career, because of my connection to this club. We just want to get through it."
Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus is available this summer for £34.7 million, and it is claimed that Liverpool are interested in the 23-year-old.
The Reds face an important summer ahead in the transfer market, following a frustrating title defence and the likely departure of a number of senior players.
Gini Wijnaldum is chief among those expected to depart, with the Dutchman’s contract due to expire, and given his status as a first-choice starter, identifying his replacement is paramount.
Liverpool have been linked with a number of midfielders in recent months, and Neuhaus is one of the latest to have been touted with a move to Merseyside.
German journalist Christian Falk has told BILD that the club have been “watching the player for a while,” and with the No. 32 available due to a £34.7 million release clause in his contract, he “asks to play” at Liverpool.
“It’s true that they’ve been watching the player for a while,” Falk said, according to Sport Witness.
“The whole thing is not yet concrete according to our information, but it can, of course, become concrete, and he asks to play there.”
Falk went on to rule out both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich as destinations, with the upcoming move of manager Marco Rose from Gladbach to Dortmund ensuring the club has “distanced itself” from Neuhaus.
“Dortmund has distanced itself after the Rose transfer and will not take any player from its team,” he explained.
“Bayern has to save money after the €42.5 million transfer of Upamecano; it is currently rather unlikely that they will put another €40 million on the table.
“That means it must be another league if Neuhaus wants to change, and there is the Premier League and Liverpool, of course.”
Whether he would serve as a like-for-like replacement for Wijnaldum is questionable, however, with Neuhaus better in more advanced positions, which has helped him score six and assist six in 31 games for Gladbach already this season.
It is likely that, as with his Gladbach team-mate Denis Zakaria, Liverpool are just monitoring the situation with Neuhaus at present – with Wijnaldum yet to even confirm his intention to leave – but it is one to keep an eye on.
Liverpool visit Sheffield United on Sunday night - read on to find out how you can watch or follow the Premier League match.
The game at Bramall Lane is set for a 7.15pm GMT kick-off and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK.
Two minutes of highlights will be available to watch on LFCTV GO two hours after the full-time whistle and extended match action can be viewed from midnight.
Make sure you don’t miss a kick by using the code 2021GOFREE to start a free one-month trial of LFCTV GO now – this can be cancelled at any time.
Our live Match Centre will begin on Sunday morning on Liverpoolfc.com and the official LFC app, bringing you all the build-up to the game, minute-by-minute updates, audio commentary, interactive features and much more.
For global broadcast listings, click here.
This LGBT History Month will see Liverpool FC introduce its first ever LGBT staff network.
The new LGBT staff network, which forms part of the club’s Red Together inclusion strategy, was created to maintain a safe, inclusive and fair environment at the club where everyone can be their true authentic selves.
We caught up with Mark Armario, a senior manager at LFC and member of the LGBT staff network, to find out more about why its work is so important, its ambitions and upcoming activities, as well as the club’s wider equality, diversity and inclusion work as part of its Red Together strategy.
Mark, can you explain how the LGBT staff network first came about?
The creation of the group is part of the club’s Red Together strategy, which promotes and encourages diversity across the football club to make it as inclusive and welcoming as possible for everyone. One of Red Together’s commitments was to create several new colleague networks to allow people to connect across the club, create an internal community and enhance engagement with the wider community and supporter groups.
The network will be actively involved in a number of internal and external events celebrating the LGBT community, including LCR Pride in Liverpool, Rainbow Laces, Pride Month and LGBT History Month to build on the great work that the club has been doing.
I’m personally delighted and feel empowered to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to what we can achieve as a network of like-minded individuals.
What activities does the LGBT staff network have coming up?
Although we are a new group, we have already set up a programme of events for our staff. Firstly, we will be joined by Flight Lieutenant Caroline Paige, who made history as the first transgender officer to serve openly in the UK armed forces. This event with Caroline will complement other educational resources we have curated for our colleagues across the club to increase LFC’s staff understanding and awareness of the challenges that continue to be faced by the LGBT community.
We will also begin planning our support of Pride Month 2021 as well as our involvement in this year’s LCR Pride in Liverpool, which is always a highlight in the club’s calendar and one which we are proud to be a part of. There will be more details on this in the months to come. LFC will also have a presence at London Pride for the first time ever in the club’s history to demonstrate support for all our London-based colleagues, which is a really exciting addition to our calendar.
Other events that we will also be supporting and celebrating include IDAHOBIT in May, and Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign and Trans Day of Remembrance later in the year.
Aside from a busy calendar of events, what is the next for the LGBT staff network and the club’s commitment to the LGBT community as part of its Red Together strategy?
In consultation with LFC’s LGBT supporters’ group, Kop Outs, we will be forming an LGBTQ+ independent advisory group to help us to continue to develop this area of work and inform what we do as an LGBT inclusive football club.
It’s fantastic that we already have members of the LGBTQ+ community who have agreed to be part of the group and provide their support, including Steve MacFarlane from the Michael Causer Foundation, Liverpool’s LGBT charity set up in Michael’s memory; Linda Riley of Diva Mag, Europe’s largest magazine for lesbian and bisexual women; and Flight Lieutenant Caroline Paige, who made history as the first transgender officer to serve openly in the UK armed forces. This is another exciting and important project for the club and more members will be announced soon.
For supporters who may not be aware of Red Together, it provides a recognisable platform for all the club’s work on and commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across everything it does.
Some recent highlights include:
For more information on Red Together, please visit https://www.liverpoolfc.com/redtogether.
Liverpool U23s host Arsenal in Premier League 2 this afternoon - watch the game live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO from 2.55pm GMT.
After a 3-2 win at Chelsea last week, the young Reds are back in action at the Kirkby Academy, with kick-off at 3pm.
And you can enjoy all the action as it happens with our live coverage of the contest.
Start a free one-month trial of LFCTV GO now using the code 2021GOFREE at checkout - this can be cancelled at any time.
Andy Robertson insists Liverpool will have to replicate the battling qualities that gained them two wins over Sheffield United last season when they aim to repeat the feat this weekend.
The Reds took three points from a hard-fought clash at Bramall Lane in 2019-20 that ended 1-0 after Georginio Wijnaldum’s second-half strike was fumbled by the hosts’ goalkeeper.
They subsequently defeated the Blades 2-0 at home and, having already won their Anfield clash this term too, will aim to clinch another Premier League double over Chris Wilder’s team on Sunday evening.
To do so, says Robertson, the correct application and attitude must provide the foundation for Liverpool to then show the quality they are determined to reproduce in the top flight.
“For me, there’s no easy game against Sheffield United,” the left-back told Liverpoolfc.com. “Last season when we played them, they were two of the hardest games we played all season – especially away from home.
“I think Gini scored late on and it was more by their ‘keeper’s mistake than anything that won us that game.
“Similar to us in a shorter period of time, you don’t turn into a bad team overnight; they have still got the same players that are full of quality, they have got a fantastic manager who is clearly well regarded in the game, and they are desperate for points as well. So, for me, it’s definitely not ‘a perfect game’ if people are saying it like that.
“It’s one of the toughest games of the season and irrelevant of our form or their form at the minute, it’s going to be a battle. We know what we expect from Sheffield United but it’s about trying to match that and about trying to then overcome that, which we did so well last season in the two games.
“We need to go into it with that same attitude on Sunday and then hopefully our qualities can shine and we’ll have enough to get the three points. But we need to be up for the fight first, because they certainly will be.”
Jürgen Klopp’s men could be boosted by the return of Diogo Jota in Yorkshire.
The No.20 was back in team sessions at the AXA Training Centre this week for the first time since sustaining a knee injury at FC Midtjylland in early December.
With Jota’s showings in Kirkby described as ‘really promising’ by the manager, his level of involvement against the Blades is under consideration.
Robertson, and the rest of the Reds squad, are delighted to have the summer signing – who netted nine goals in 17 games before being sidelined – in the fold again.
“In a really tough week for a few reasons, of course, seeing Diogo back on the pitch brought a smile to everyone’s face,” said the Scot.
“He was flying up until his injury, he really made an impact coming into the team, a new signing hitting the ground running with goals, assists and the way he was going about his business.
“So, great to have him back. He has obviously been out for a long period of time, he’s looking really good in training, looking sharp. So, I’m sure he’s looking to make up for lost time.
“It’s good to have that option, great to have him back and it’ll be good to have him back involved in the squad. He has certainly brought an extra quality to training, long may that continue and hopefully he can score some of the goals he scored at the start of the season because, like I said, he was making a huge impact on this club.”
On the other hand, however, the champions now face a period without their captain, following the corrective procedure Jordan Henderson required on the adductor injury he picked up in the Merseyside derby.
Robertson echoed the boss’ view that the skipper can continue to provide a positive influence in the dressing room during his rehabilitation, but equally stressed the need to step up in his absence.
“Look, a huge blow for us, losing your captain for quite a few weeks is never good,” he said.
“But, for once, Hendo needs to put himself first, for certainly the next couple of weeks. He has had surgery and he needs to make sure he recovers as well as he can, so he needs to try to forget about all of us just now and just focus on his recovery.
“But there will be a time when he’s back on the training ground and back around the lads, he knows how influential he is in the changing room, he knows anything he says is listened to in the training ground. And I’m sure he can still help us drive forward. But just now he just needs to look after himself and not worry about us.
“We’ve got still a couple of leaders left to keep driving it forward and we’ll try to do our best without him round the place for the next couple of weeks.”
During a season of unprecedented injury misfortune Robertson has so far remained ever-present, starting all 25 of the Reds’ Premier League fixtures.
Asked about the statistic, he went on to detail the importance of maintaining a mentality that does not allow the circumstances to negatively affect morale.
“It’s probably part luck and everything that goes along with it,” the No.26 said of his own availability.
“With all the injuries round about me, it has obviously been tough in terms of, mentally, you need to try to get out of your head that ‘Am I going to be next?’ or ‘Who is going to be next?’
“That’s the attitude we need to try to get away from because it looks like every game or every couple of games we’re losing somebody; it’s not been a nice season on that front.
“Obviously we have lost a lot of key players in key positions, and it has really been tough to adapt. But we get paid to play and paid to do what we do, and we need to get back to doing it to the highest level possible.
“I’m determined to do that and so are the rest of the lads that are fit and still able to play.”
Fabinho and James Milner are set to follow Diogo Jota by resuming team training ahead of Liverpool's visit to Sheffield United.
Jota, who has not played since December due to a knee injury, was back among his teammates at the AXA Training Centre earlier this week and Jürgen Klopp confirmed on Friday that Fabinho and Milner were also likely to take part in Saturday’s full session.
“Diogo trained now twice with the team, looks very good - very good,” the manager said, during his pre-match press conference.
“But [he] was out long term so we have to see what we can do with that. But in training he looks really promising.
“Fab was not yet with the team. That can happen tomorrow [Saturday], if I’m 100 per cent right, he has his first session with the team. And same for James Milner.”
On Jota, Klopp went on to state: “The way he came back to training is very positive, so we just have to make a decision about what makes sense for him, when does it [his return] make sense for him and all these kind of things.”
No decision has yet been made regarding the availability of Alisson Becker following the tragic death of his father.
“We didn’t think about that so far really. I don’t know [if he will play],” Klopp said.
Jordan Henderson will be out until after the March international break after the captain underwent successful surgery on an adductor injury, while Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk are long-term absentees.
For Sheffield United, Chris Basham and Jayden Bogle have joined Sander Berge, John Egan, Lys Mousset, Jack O’Connell, Jack Robinson and Jack Rodwell on the sidelines.
Blades boss Chris Wilder said: “There have been three players available all season to us who have not had issues.
“That’s a huge amount for a team that has the challenges of a second season in the Premier League and I am sure you understand that affects us severely and harshly.”
Fulham 1-0 Sheffield United (February 20): Ramsdale, Ampadu, Jagielka, Bryan, Baldock, Stevens, Basham, Fleck, Lundstram, Sharp, McBurnie.
Liverpool 0-2 Everton (February 20): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Henderson, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Thiago, Jones, Salah, Mane, Firmino.
Jurgen Klopp has insisted he does not think it is time for a “massive rebuild,” but readjustments are to happen alongside the current squad needing a chance to play together.
The Reds have been dealt a lethal hand in 2020/21, with a considerable injury list wiping out key figures and ensuring a settled XI has been all but impossible.
That, in addition to a condensed and taxing season in the midst of a pandemic has knocked Liverpool off their stride and into a rough patch of form.
With the title off the table and eyes already been cast to the future, questions have been raised about the evolution of Klopp’s side and the need for a rebuild.
With 14 members of the current squad aged 27 and over, including the entire front three, the age of the team is a growing concern, as is injecting fresh blood.
And while first questioning if a “rebuild means 10 out or 10 in,” Klopp insisted that a “massive rebuild” was not in order but that tweaks are certainly needed – if timing and finances allow.
But there is also a desire to see his current squad, who were robbed of the opportunity through injury, provided with the chance to play together consistently.
“I don’t think it’s the time for a massive rebuild for how I understand it, six or seven out, [players with] running contracts but try to get rid of them and then bring in new faces,” Klopp said.
“The squad of this year did not have the chance to play together one time really, I think it would make sense to have a look at that as well.
“On top of that, of course, little readjustments, or whatever, will happen. Reacting on the situation but at the same time planning for the future.
“Not sure if we can do that in the summer, but that’s what we will try.”
But with a lack of depth on show once more, largely due to injury, tiring legs and increased competition needed, the Reds need to act and Klopp needs the backing from the owners to do so.
In an ideal world, the Reds need at least a new centre-back, midfielder and forward player of starting XI quality, but off the back of a pandemic it may only be hopeful thinking.
Jurgen Klopp has denied it is time for a rebuild of his Liverpool squad but admits a top-four finish this season will be a big achievement.
Twelve of his current squad are 28 or over, with Fabinho, Andy Robertson, Diogo Jota, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones currently the only players under that age who have played a major part.
Only two - Thiago Alcantara and Jota - of Liverpool's last six major transfers could be classed in the category of strengthening Klopp's first-choice XI and both have missed large parts of this season through injury.
A run of two Premier League wins since Christmas has led some critics to suggest the squad needs refreshing after the achievements and workload over the last three years.
Klopp, however, disagrees and pointed to a lengthy injury list for being at the heart of the problem.Sunday 28th February 7:00pm Kick off 7:15pm
"Rebuild? No. What is 'rebuild' exactly? Rebuild means 10 out, 10 in? Changes to which XI?" he said.
"I know what you mean but I don't think it is time for a massive rebuild like how I understand it: six, seven out, running contracts but trying to get rid of them and bring in all the new faces.
"The squad of this year didn't have the chance to play together one time really. I think it would make sense to have a look at that but on top of that, of course little readjustments will happen.1:50 Klopp says the mood around Liverpool is still good, despite their poor run of form and growing injury list
"Reacting on the situation but planning at the same time for the future and all these kinds of things.
"I am not sure we can do that in the summer but that is what we will try."2:58 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Everton's win over Liverpool in the Premier League
A return of nine points from a possible 33 since thrashing Crystal Palace 7-0 on December 19 has seen the defending champions fall from first to sixth which has left them in a battle for the top four.
When asked to assess the achievement of qualifying for the Champions League in the face of an injury list which shows no signs of easing - after captain Jordan Henderson was ruled out for at least a month after a groin operation - Klopp said: "Big. Yes it would. Absolutely.0:27 Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp believes the club will have 'more poor results' this season
"You can see the competitors. Look, it is not about the possible performance.
"The game we played against Leicester [when they conceded three in the last 12 minutes] we lost, but the performance on the day was one with which the team usually wins.
"It is all about results. The table doesn't lie. Never. That is completely fine. We know that performance-wise we are not that far away, but results-wise we are.
"That is what we have to change and for all the different reasons that it was a difficult season so far for us.
"We try with all we have to sort it and while you try and sort one problem another problem occurs. That is in a season when it is not going perfect, obviously."I take responsibility for tough period - Klopp Image: Klopp has taken responsibility for Liverpool's disappointing form
Despite an alarming drop off in results since December, Klopp insists he does not attribute the blame to his players.
Liverpool's struggles have wrecked their title defence but Klopp insists "careers don't end after this season" and is confident there are positive lessons the club can take.
"We will try everything this season but there are so many things we can learn from it," Klopp said.
"And while we are doing that we go through this (tough period) but our football lives - our career - doesn't end after this season.
"I don't go and put the finger on my players and blame them for the situation - I don't do that.
"We are all responsible for it, I am mainly responsible for it. What we go through now, we have to sort problems now, immediately, and in the long term we can get the benefit of what we are going through in the moment.
"It's not cool but there are much worse things out there than the situation we are in as a football club.
"Maybe the important message even in this moment is we are still Liverpool and that is what we feel.
"We are Liverpool when we win 20 games in a row or whatever and don't lose, and not when we lose matches? No, we are still Liverpool.
"That, of course, gives me energy, so I am not here only for the big celebrations, I am here for the work.
"And if it is the dirty work, the hard work, no problem."Redknapp: It'll be a surprise if Liverpool make top four
Jamie Redknapp says Liverpool's injuries and their drop-off in confidence and performance levels makes a top-four finish tough - but expects them to roar back next season.
The defending champions' Merseyside derby defeat at home to Everton on Saturday made it six defeats in their last nine games and with captain Jordan Henderson the latest centre-back option to be struck by injury, Liverpool's hopes of a Champions League qualifying spot are in doubt.
Speaking on the latest Pitch to Post Preview Podcast, Redknapp believes Liverpool's "fear factor is gone" and there will be no quick turnaround in their fortunes, with the Sky Sports pundit predicting more setbacks for Jurgen Klopp's side between now and the end of the season.
However, he says Liverpool supporters can be optimistic of a return to form in 2021/22 when fans are back at Anfield, and Virgil van Dijk is fit again, and belief is back in the team.
"They might not finish top four. It wouldn't be a surprise - it's actually more of a surprise if they did finish top four in the form they're in," Redknapp said.
"But they'll have to look at this as an exercise. It's not gone well for them but how can they do in the Champions League? Can they win the Champions League and upset the odds and do something incredibly special on that front?"
Jürgen Klopp vowed he and his players will continue to do everything possible to get Liverpool back on track.
After a challenging month in a testing Premier League season, the Reds head to Sheffield United on Sunday evening aiming to clinch three points in their objective to climb the table.
Klopp acknowledged the hurdles his side have faced so far this term, but detailed the work still going on behind the scenes to put things right.
Read on as the boss spoke to reporters during the second part of his press conference ahead of the team's trip to Bramall Lane...
On how he keeps his motivation going...
No lack of motivation. So, difficult situations always fired me up, rather than, I don't know, the other way around. It's clear to say winning game after game after game is nicer, absolutely. But this is a different time, this is a different season for us obviously for plenty of reasons, and we have to fight through this and we will do that. There's no doubt about that. Maybe the important message, even in this moment, [is]: we are still Liverpool and that's what we feel. You cannot only be Liverpool on a day when you win 20 games in a row or don't lose home games for ages. No, we are still Liverpool – and that's exactly what I know and what I live, what I love. That's what gives me the energy. I'm not here for only the big celebrations and stuff like this, I'm here for doing the work. If it's necessary, the dirty work, the hard work, no problems. It's all fine. I said plenty of times, I feel massively responsible – and I am massively responsible – for the situation we are in. A big part of it, some parts of it not – but we have no influence on that and that means I have to make good decisions, better decisions if necessary and all these kind of things. On the pitch, we have to be more clinical, that's clear as well, and we work on that.
On his approach during testing times and maintaining a positive atmosphere...
I don't know, so maybe you should ask the players or whatever. Atmosphere, maybe it's a misunderstanding, I don't know, [that] a good atmosphere means you come in every morning and you enter the door and the first thing is a massive joke and everybody is laughing like crazy – that's not like it is. An atmosphere is like a trustful atmosphere, like people trust each other, that we like each other, that we respect each other, that we do these kind of things. That we create a situation where we always find a way for ourselves to become, all of us, positive again about the next game, optimistic again about the next game. Yes, that's a massive challenge. That's exactly what we do and what we do together. How I said, we will try everything this season.
But there are so many things we can learn about people, other people, I don't read what you write but maybe about journalists. We can really learn a lot of things about what we did right even when the world thought it's wrong, and when we did wrong even when people didn't realise it. While we are doing that, we go through this period. But our football life, our career doesn't end after this season. What we go through now, we have to sort problems now, immediately. But in the long term, we can get the benefit of what we are going through in the moment, that's clear. But that's not for the moment. It's not that difficult to create an atmosphere, I don't go and put the finger on my players and blame them for the situation, I don't do that. So, we are all responsible for it, I'm mainly responsible for it but I can get up in the morning and find some good things about the day and about the things what we do and about the training sessions. I can do that and everybody can do that. That's it. Again, it's not cool but there are much worse things out there than the situation we are in as a football club.
On how big an achievement it would be to finish in the top four considering all the challenges faced this season...
Big. Absolutely, nothing else to say. You see it yourself, you see the competitors. Look, it's not about the possible performance. So, the game we played against Leicester we lost, we know, but the performance we showed that day, that was a game usually one team wins. It's only about what we can bring on the pitch still. We played against West Ham and I think they were in front of us as well on that day. But it's all about results. I don't say that's not right. No, the table doesn't lie – never. That's completely fine. It's just we know performance-wise we are not so far away but result-wise we are – and that's what we have to change. For all the different reasons that it was a difficult season so far for us, we always tried to sort it. Honestly, we try with all we have to sort it. Then while you sort one problem, another problem occurs, that's how it is. Then you try to sort that and then another. So, that's in a season when it's not going perfect obviously and that's, for sure, for us the case. Then it means now other clubs with big potential, City we don't have to talk about, but United, Leicester, Chelsea, West Ham in and around us, Tottenham have similar problems maybe like we have, Arsenal maybe as well. So, there's a distance to go for us. We don't have to think about that really, we have to think about Sheffield United. If we can do that then maybe we are a step closer or not, then Chelsea's coming and that's a proper game as well. So all these kind of things, that's what's going on. If we would do it in the end, yeah, that would be big.
Liverpool’s main involvement in the rumour mill on Friday is the central midfield revolving door, while we’ve all the build-up ahead of our clash with Sheffield United.Midfield pair linked once more
Well, at least it’s not another two centre-backs, right? It seems inevitable at this stage that Gini Wijnaldum will depart, particularly given the big role he has had to play this season – he’ll feel more than ever that he deserves a big salary bump, and the club structure appears unwilling to play.
Different national media have two different players as the front-runner to replace the No.5: in Italy, they are clear that Jurgen Klopp really wants Rodrigo De Paul and our ability to pay the €40m asking price – even though it’s more than we wanted – makes us favourites to sign the Udinese man ahead of Inter Milan.
In Germany, Bild say we’re still keen on ‘Gladbach’s Florian Neuhaus, who has a release clause of €40m.
That seems about the going rate, which is a lot to replace a player who will leave on a free, though Bild do state our intentions to sign the German man are “not concrete” yet.
Who wants to bet we end up with neither and it’s a totally unexpected name?!Jota looking ready ahead of Blades test
Not gonna lie: it would be really helpful if Diogo Jota could just hit the ground running again and fire in about five goals from eight shots once he gets back on the pitch for the Reds.
His pre-injury strike rate might not be sustainable over the long term, but we could really do with a quickfire boost in attack right now.
There’s no guarantee he’ll play this weekend – the boss offered the usual caveats of having to see “when does it make sense” for his return and the like – but as we’re able to select a bigger bench right now, and few others than Mo Salah look capable of sticking the ball in the net, it seems probable he’ll at least be in the squad.Weekend team news
You may have read by now that it’s not good news for Jordan Henderson, and the manager is hinting that it’s even worse than that.Quickfire LFC news
“The Reds will pursue a striker in the summer transfer window.”
What it actually says: Poor form and lack of goals mean Klopp might have to consider signing another one. Bad work, BBC/Echo combo.Tweet of the day
The best thing I can say about these injuries is that it will never get more ridiculous than this in another season. It's impossible.
Wonder if any team has ever had their 3 best CBs out for the season, and also the two midfielders filling in there out injured, too.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) February 26, 2021Worth watching tonight
Werder Bremen vs Eintracht Frankfurt to get you in the mood for the weekend. 7:30pm, BT Sport, lots of crosses from Kostic and clever stuff from Kamada. Lovely.
Mention Tom Clayton's name to staff at Liverpool's Academy and they will tell you he is Kirkby's 'Mr Versatile'.
Clayton is usually deployed at centre-back but, with injury issues affecting the U23s this season, has featured regularly as a holding midfielder for Barry Lewtas' side.
Last Friday, he played a key role after replacing the injured Leighton Clarkson in the young Reds' 3-2 victory at Chelsea.
And ahead of their next fixture - a home clash with Arsenal on Saturday - we caught up with Clayton in the latest edition of LFCTV's Academy Show...
On the win at Chelsea…
I think we've had a tough run recently so it was nice to actually get three points on the board. I think at times our performances haven't really got us what we deserved, and I think we have deserved more wins, but that's just the way football goes at times. I think the lads battled well. In the last 10 minutes of the game we were having to do a low block but Boysie [Morgan Boyes] and Billy [Koumetio] cleared everything for us and Conor Bradley also made a great challenge in the six-yard box for us. It was a team effort, we got the three goals, the three points, so job done.
On hoping to build on beating Chelsea this weekend…
There's been one or two times this season when we've been a bit disappointing with certain aspects of our performances, but I think in the main we have done well. In the games against Tottenham and Everton I feel we deserved the three points in both games but only took one point in the mini-derby. Hopefully we can carry on now against Arsenal.
On his superb strike from distance to beat the Gunners earlier this season…
I still talk about that goal to the lads now! The ball fell to me nicely and it was nice to see it go in, and hopefully we can get another three points on Saturday.
On his versatility…
I've had a few chats with Barry about this and he mentioned he thought I can play in a number of positions for him, including in midfield. I've played at centre-back, left-back, central midfield and even right-back. I'm enjoying it. I am enjoying playing in different positions and having different exposure.
On playing holding midfield…
I would say I am definitely a different type of No.6 to people like Leighton Clarkson, for example. I've got that defensive mindset from playing centre-back but I've had a few chats with Barry and Gary O'Neil, who obviously played in midfield all through his career. Each game is different but I've got a good understanding of the game and what's required of me. I do enjoy sitting in front of the back four and you also get that bit of freedom. I'm enjoying it. It's different to playing centre-back because you have got more freedom obviously to break the line of the opposition when they are going forward. I definitely feel I can do the job and I'd like to thank Barry for having the trust in me to do it.
On why being versatile could be valuable as he seeks to catch the eye of the first-team coaches…
That's the aim. There's always a lot of people watching our games and you are just trying to make an impression on them, whether that's centre-back, left-back, right-back or in midfield. I'm just trying to show I have a good understanding of the game and can play well in a number of positions. That's just what I try to do wherever Barry asks me to play at the weekend.
On seeing the likes of Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams enjoying first-team opportunities…
It's fantastic to see the way our manager and his staff give the young players an opportunity. They do trust the young players so it's just about trying to earn that trust and then when you do get that chance, taking it. Without the injuries they might not have got as much game time, but I think centre-half is not usually an opportunity you get and I think Nat and Rhys have both done really well. They have both come through a lot of challenges and playing against different opponents and I think they have shown they can handle it and they are good enough to play at that level. We are all made up for them here at the Academy and we hope it continues.
On eyes being on the Academy players on a daily basis…
Obviously, being at the AXA Training Centre the first-team staff have the opportunity to watch our training and the games. We know the manager and his coaching staff are interested in us and keeping an eye on us. It's just about keep doing what you are doing and whenever the opportunity comes, whenever that may be, you've just got to take it. The facilities are world-class and it's got everything that you need, whether that's nutrition, gym, physio - it's got everything you need so it's perfect. I love it so it's just great to be here.
On his leadership qualities and helping his younger teammates...
I think it's massively important and I try to lead as best as I can on and off the pitch. The U23s are a young team this year and we have a lot of first and second-year lads. Trying to lead by example is something Barry has wanted from me more. I can speak on the pitch but I think I can still do it more. But, we have got a lot of young and inexperienced lads so I just try to be a leader, if you like, and try to use my voice.
On having the mental strength to come through his injury issues and getting regular game time this season...
I think it definitely makes you a stronger person coping with injuries. It's tough being injured, the days are longer, you don't get that buzz on a matchday and nothing can recreate that buzz you do get. When you are watching the lads play when you are injured it is tough, and it does make you mentally stronger. You might not realise it at the time but I think it does make you that bit more resilient. That character-building comes through and hopefully it's showing on the pitch now. I just want to try to get as many minutes as I can, impress and see where it takes me.
Watch Liverpool FC Women's meeting with London Bees live and for free across official club channels this Sunday.
The Reds welcome the Bees to Prenton Park for the FA Women’s Championship fixture, with kick-off scheduled for 2pm GMT.