‘Im­por­tant’ Stur­ridge could fea­ture for Liver­pool at Leicester

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL WIL­SON and DAVID HYTNER

Daniel Stur­ridge could fea­ture for Liver­pool at Leicester City to­day (5.30pm) de­spite not be­ing se­lected for the trip to the King Power Sta­dium in the English League Cup.

Jür­gen Klopp in­sists the striker is still an im­por­tant part of his plans and that a pre-sea­son chat be­tween the pair cen­tred only on Stur­ridge’s role at the club and not his de­sire to play else­where. “We had a good talk and it was not a case of him ask­ing when or where he could go. It was about what we planned for this sea­son,” Klopp said.

“He is im­por­tant to us and I could have taken him to Leicester in mid­week but I can only se­lect 11 play­ers and Daniel would not have started. So we took a re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sion. Rather than take him for 10 or maybe 20 min­utes from the bench, we thought it was bet­ter to leave him be­hind so he could train twice and get bet­ter phys­i­cally. We had Dom Solanke and Danny Ings for the bench and the more Daniel trains the bet­ter he gets, so that was the only rea­son for it.”

Stur­ridge is mak­ing his way back to full fit­ness af­ter in­jury but Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain ap­pears to be strug­gling to adapt to Liver­pool’s de­mands fol­low­ing his move from Ar­se­nal and was un­con­vinc­ing in his first start for his new club at Leicester, whereas Mo­hamed Salah has slot­ted straight in and has scored three goals al­ready.

Ac­cord­ing to Klopp there is no big se­cret: the Egyp­tian was able to hit the ground run­ning thanks to ar­riv­ing so early in the trans­fer win­dow.

“You should never take things like this for granted but I’m not sur­prised by how quickly he has adapted,” Klopp said. “He had a whole pre-sea­son, so it is not as if he has had to set­tle in in a minute, which is what peo­ple are now ex­pect­ing of Ox. He has been work­ing with us for many weeks, so it’s no prob­lem for him.

“You can­not say he was cheap at £38 mil­lion but he’s a very good player, one we were al­ways con­vinced about. You could see his po­ten­tial in his first game at Wat­ford. It was re­ally phys­i­cal and maybe a few peo­ple had doubts but he played bet­ter than any­one could have imag­ined.”

Con­tract talks

Arsène Wenger wants to push new con­tract talks with Aaron Ram­sey and Danny Wel­beck, whose deals at Ar­se­nal ex­pire in the sum­mer of 2019. How­ever, the man­ager has warned that be­cause of the in­fla­tion of the trans­fer mar­ket more and more play­ers are set to en­ter the last years on their con­tracts. Ar­se­nal have a clutch of play­ers in their fi­nal 12 months, most no­tably Alexis Sánchez and Me­sut Özil, and there would be con­ster­na­tion if Ram­sey and Wel­beck were to go down the same path.

Wel­beck is out un­til mid-Oc­to­ber but he started the sea­son well while Ram­sey was im­pres­sive in Sun­day’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea. “It is some­thing we want to ad­dress,” Wenger said in re­la­tion to fresh terms for Ram­sey and Wel­beck.

“Both of them are in a good mo­ment for us. But with the level of trans­fers and the amounts that play­ers ex­pect on their con­tracts, you will have more and more play­ers go­ing into the fi­nal year of their con­tracts. This sea­son, there were 107 play­ers in the Pre­mier League who got into the fi­nal year of their con­tract and you will see that more.”

Liver­pool’s Daniel Stur­ridge: still mak­ing his way back to full fit­ness

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