Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS.
Jurgen Klopp has dropped his biggest hint yet he is ready to strengthen his Liverpool squad in January but on his freescoring attack and not his error-prone defence.
Liverpool travel to Middlesbrough aiming for a first victory in three games to reignite their Premier League title hopes in the wake of a 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth and a 2-2 draw at home to West Ham, which has seen them lose ground to their rivals.
Klopp has recently played down suggestions he will listen to offers for Liverpool’s out of favour England international Daniel Sturridge.
The German head coach seems more intent on keeping Sturridge and bolstering his attacking options when the winter transfer window opens next month, though he warned at the difficulties of bringing in players mid-season.
“The winter transfer market is the most difficult. We are always looking,” said Klopp, who will be without the influential Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho for at least another month due to an ankle injury.
“If you look at our bench, we’re very experienced in defence, and not offence. If the situation stays like this it is clear we have open eyes.”
Liverpool enter the latest round of Premier League game six points off leaders Chelsea, having dropped five points in their last two matches, conceding six goals in the process.
– ‘We’re on a good run’ –
Klopp is set to keep faith with Loris Karius, after hitting back at withering criticism of his goalkeeper’s displays in those two games from the television pundits and former Manchester United defenders Gary and Phil Neville.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has also used his position as a TV pundit to hammer Karius, notably after the defeat to Bournemouth.
The Liverpool boss will refuse to bow to mounting pressure to drop the 23-year-old, who has largely failed to impress in making 11 appearances since signing from German side Mainz six months ago for £4.7m.
Since beating Watford 6-1 at the start of November, Klopp’s side have won only one of their last four league games to raise question marks over their title credentials.
Emre Can is a set to miss out against Middlesbrough with a knee problem, although the German midfielder is expected to be fit for next week’s Merseyside derby against Everton.
Defender Dejan Lovren, who was forced off with cramp against West Ham at Anfield, is a doubt for the trip to the North-East.
Middlesbrough midfielder Adam Forshaw urged his team-mates not to dwell on Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Southampton, which leaves Aitor Karanka’s side three points above the relegation zone.
Boro have won two of their last three home games as they aim to re-establish themselves in the top flight after a seven year absence and can be encouraged by the fact Liverpool are without a win on their last seven visits, a run stretching back to 2002.
“We’re disappointed with the outcome at Southampton, but it’s not something we can dwell on with the games coming thick and fast at this stage of the season,” said Forshaw.
“We’ve been playing some decent stuff, and we’re on a good run at home. Every game at this level is massive, and we have another exciting opportunity now with Liverpool next up at the Riverside.”