Man­ager Klopp backs Stur­ridge to fire for Liver­pool

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Liver­pool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp plans to un­leash an in­jury-free Daniel Stur­ridge in the new sea­son with the Eng­land striker back train­ing fully fit and fo­cused. “It’s the best con­di­tion he has been in since I have been here,” Klopp told re­porters in Hong Kong yes­ter­day ahead of his sec­ond full cam­paign as Liver­pool man­ager.

Stur­ridge has been trou­bled by a spate of in­juries since join­ing the Reds from Pre­mier League ri­vals Chelsea in 2013 and hip prob­lems re­stricted his im­pact to just seven goals from 27 ap­pear­ances last sea­son. The 27-yearold has re­cently been linked with a big­money move to China, but Klopp in­sisted Stur­ridge was go­ing nowhere, back­ing him to re­turn to the kind of form that al­most helped bring Liver­pool a league ti­tle in his first sea­son on Mersey­side.

“He has been part of a full pre-sea­son so far so that is very pos­i­tive,” Klopp said be­fore Liver­pool take part in the Pre­mier League Asia Tro­phy also in­volv­ing Le­ices­ter City, Crys­tal Palace and West Bromwich Al­bion. “It has been quite in­tense what we have done and he has pretty much been part of each ses­sion so that is good. He is in good phys­i­cal shape.” Amid fan­fare over the ar­rival of record sign­ing Mo­hamed Salah to Liver­pool, signed from Roma last month for an es­ti­mated $45 mil­lion, Klopp said his pri­mary fo­cus was on see­ing his club im­prove on last sea­son’s fourth-place fin­ish.

“Some­times (the news) is all about bring­ing in new play­ers but the main thing is how do we im­prove the play­ers we had last sea­son,” said the for­mer Dort­mund coach, cur­rently play­ing a wait­ing game on key trans­fer tar­gets Naby Keita and Vir­gil van Dijk.

“The good thing is we did not lose any player that we want and I ex­pect a lot of im­prove­ment from the play­ers we have.” Salah is one of two new sign­ings Liver­pool have brought with them to Hong Kong.

The Egypt in­ter­na­tional has hit the ground run­ning with the Reds, scor­ing in his first friendly against Wi­gan last week, while striker Do­minic Solanke will also be look­ing to im­press his new boss fol­low­ing the 19-year-old’s free trans­fer from Chelsea. But Klopp re­fused to be drawn on Leipzig mid­fielder Keita or van Dijk, the Southamp­ton de­fender.

“It is what it is and the trans­fer mar­ket is open un­til the (Au­gust) 31st,” said the Ger­man, whose team kick off their Pre­mier League cam­paign at Wat­ford on Au­gust 12. “I am not easy to frus­trate. It’s the trans­fer mar­ket-some­times things work out, some­times they don’t. I have all the play­ers I want, un­til now. I’m still re­laxed.”

Mean­while, Liver­pool ar­rived in Hong Kong on Mon­day to a del­uge of rain and flood warn­ings. “You have to make the best of the cir­cum­stances,” said Klopp. “We come from Eng­land so we are used to a lit­tle bit of rain but yes­ter­day was a lit­tle bit too much. Sit­u­a­tions like this are like foot­ball-you al­ways need to find so­lu­tions.”— AFP

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