Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on Friday hinted that striker Daniel Sturridge could start the club’s game against Aston Villa on Sunday.
The 26-year-old striker returned to first-team action as a substitute against West Ham United, and Klopp revealed he is still to decide if he is to include Sturridge in his starting line-up for the game at Villa Park.
Klopp who maintained Sturridge had nothing special in his recovery from injury insists he is keen to manage Sturridge’s playing time.
“He played about 70 minutes against West Ham and was involved in all training afterwards. So it was good,” he said during a pre-match press conference.
“I’ve heard nothing else but of course we have to think about how we manage his minutes. He made a big step in the last week. Up until now I have made no final decisions with starting lineup. But everything is like it should be,” Klopp said at his press conference.
The Liverpool manager also recently welcomed Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi back into the first-team picture. But, again, Klopp said he intends to be cautious in how he handles the players.
“If you are really interested in us then you see that the situation in the squad is difficult. A few players had a lot of games, maybe too much, a few players had injuries and it is completely normal they don’t come back in the best shape,” he told reporters.
“Now they are back we bring them all together and see how far they can go. But we have to manage their minutes – that’s how it is.”
However, Liverpool will be without Joe Allen for the foreseeable future, as the Wales midfielder has picked up a shoulder problem.
“Joe Allen is unfortunately out for a while. He was in a really good way, we tried to manage time after injury when I came, but then he gets a little knock on the shoulder. We have to wait a little bit for him,” Klopp disclosed.
“Lovren will not be available for Villa but hopefully for the next game. Skrtel is back on the pitch but needs time,” said Klopp, who also confirmed Steven Caulker is available again after recovering from a back injury.
Klopp then admitted he never knew Portuguese youngster, Tiago Ilori, who has a Nigerian father and was on loan at Aston Villa, ever played for Liverpool.
Ilori failed to kick a ball for Villa’s first team during the first half of the campaign and his season-long loan spell was cut short.
“I didn’t know Ilori was a Liverpool player, to be honest, but then I saw he was on loan and we got him here and you see the potential.
“That’s good, really good, but we need to develop and learn. They (the young players) gave one sign but it’s just one sign and we need consistency. They have to accept the situation, see it as a positive they have made the next step, train and train, and be more available more often.”
The Aston Villa vs Liverpool game kicks off 3.05pm Nigerian time on Sunday.