Klopp keen for Keïta to re­gain con­fi­dence

Guinea in­ter­na­tional mid­fielder is ex­pected to start tonight in reshuf­fled side

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page - Andy Hunter

Jür­gen Klopp has said Naby Keïta will be­come a ma­jor in­flu­ence at Liver­pool, but must per­form with more con­fi­dence to re­cap­ture the form that prompted his ¤58.89 mil­lion move to An­field.

The Guinea in­ter­na­tional mid­fielder is ex­pected to start at Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers in the third round tonight when Klopp will make sev­eral changes fol­low­ing an in­tense fes­tive pe­riod.

The ex­pen­sive sum­mer re­cruit has not fea­tured since the 2-0 win at Mo­lineux on De­cem­ber 21st, when the 23-year-old was sub­sti­tuted due to in­jury, al­though he was fit for the matches against New­cas­tle, Arse­nal and Manch­ester City.

Keïta has made 10 starts in all com­pe­ti­tions for Liver­pool this sea­son and, though mi­nor in­juries have hin­dered his im­pact on Klopp’s team, the man­ager ad­mits tac­tics and form have also lim­ited the player’s op­por­tu­ni­ties.

‘Still adapt­ing’

“It was not an in­jury, no, it’s just how it is some­times,” said the Liver­pool man­ager on the mid­fielder’s re­cent ab­sence. “I spoke to Naby. Ev­ery­thing is fine. I am com­pletely happy with Naby, but could he be a bit more con­fi­dent in the games? Yes. Is he ex­actly the player in his best time at Leipzig? No. He is still adapt­ing, that’s how it is.

“Ev­ery­one saw at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son how bril­liant he played. Tot­ten­ham was a fan­tas­tic game from him.

“We made a change around the PSG game, I don’t know when ex­actly, and the boys have to deal with it. A lit­tle in­jury here, a lit­tle in­jury there, and it was kind of a lit­tle set­back, but he is a fan­tas­tic player and I am re­ally happy to have him here. It is so good and I am look­ing for­ward to our com­mon fu­ture. You see it ev­ery day, wow, there is so much to come and there is so much in­flu­ence he can have on each game. That is all good.

“There was no rea­son, just other boys were in a good shape as well, a bit was po­si­tion­ing, the sys­tem, all that stuff, and that’s how foot­ball de­ci­sions are. There is re­ally no doubt about the boy, he is an out­stand­ing player.”

Si­mon Mig­no­let will start in goal against Wolves, and Klopp is con­sid­er­ing a role for his Dutch 16-year-old Ki-Jana Ho­ever with his de­fen­sive op­tions lim­ited by in­juries to Joe Gomez and Joël Matip.

The in­jured pair are not ex­pected back in full train­ing un­til af­ter Sat­ur­day’s visit to Brighton. Fabinho could move from cen­tral mid­field into de­fence should Klopp de­cide to rest Vir­gil van Dijk or De­jan Lovren.

“We need to be cre­ative or we play the two again,” said Klopp on his cen­tral de­fen­sive se­lec­tion. “We will see what we do. We will not sign a cen­tre-half for one game or what­ever, that will not hap­pen. Joe and Joël look good but ob­vi­ously not good enough for Mon­day, and prob­a­bly not for Brighton. Hope­fully af­ter that they are in full team train­ing.”

Rapid progress

Six­teen-year-old de­fender Ho­ever has been train­ing with the first team af­ter mak­ing rapid progress through the youth sides and while there is a pos­si­bil­ity of him trav­el­ling with the squad to Mo­lineux, Klopp is un­sure whether he will see any ac­tion.

“He’s one for the fu­ture, of course. But what we will do with him now for the game, I don’t know,” said Klopp.

“If Joel (Matip) and Joe (Gomez) would have been fit all the time now then prob­a­bly Ki-Jana would not have been in train­ing. Now he was in and still is in, it’s just a joy to watch him.

“He’s an in­cred­i­ble, con­fi­dent, young fella and he’s re­ally a good player on top. That we can see him day in, day out is re­ally cool.

“For sure for the fu­ture. When the fu­ture starts? I don’t know. But he’s in, he learns a lot, he im­proves and it will hap­pen au­to­mat­i­cally.

“It’s a nice prospect for the next month and years. I don’t know (whether he will be in­volved for Wolves). We will see.”

The progress of the Dutch youth in­ter­na­tional is one of the rea­sons Klopp was happy to let for­mer Eng­land right-back Nathaniel Clyne go out on loan to Bournemouth on Fri­day.

Al­though he cur­rently only has Trent Alexan­der-Arnold as a recog­nised right-back un­til Gomez re­cov­ers from a frac­tured bone in his foot the Ger­man was re­laxed about al­low­ing a se­nior player to leave.

“He is in an age where he has to play. He came and asked if he can go. I thought about it and said: ‘Yes you can’,” said Klopp.

“We have other op­tions, younger boys com­ing up. You can al­ways keep a player but to keep him in the right shape and with the right amount of con­fi­dence that’s not al­ways easy.”

Klopp is likely to take un­der-23 play­ers Cur­tis Jones and Rafael Ca­ma­cho, both of whom have been train­ing with the first team for more than a year now, with him to the West Mid­lands.

Nei­ther has yet made their se­nior de­but but could be in the squad. “Cur­tis is an­other good ex­am­ple, he’s just a fan­tas­tic player. It’s just bril­liant to have them around,” Klopp added.

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