Jurgen Klopp has offered Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius no guarantee of a recall after dropping the error-prone German for his side’s 3-0 win against Middlesbrough.
Reds boss Klopp admitted it was a difficult telling the 23-year-old that he had been benched in favour of Belgium international Simon Mignolet for the comprehensive victory at the Riverside Stadium that pushed the Anfield side up to second in the Premier League on Wednesday.
Karius paid the price for conceding six goals in two games as the Reds dropped five points against Bournemouth and West Ham to dent their title hopes.
They now trail leaders Chelsea by six points after climbing above Arsenal on goals scored, and Klopp said: “Loris is not that fine (about being dropped) but it’s a normal decision in football.
“When you’re not at the best moment you step aside, train hard and see what happens. It’s not the best moment for him at present.”
Asked to put a timescale on the likely first-team absence of the summer signing from Mainz, Klopp added: “That’s not how football works.
“I’m really happy with our goalkeeper situation, but there’s no reason to push one through, we want to develop the players. Loris is still very young, he’s a big talent but there’s no time from for when he will be back.”
Klopp denied he had bowed to pundit pressure in the wake of criticism aimed at Karius from former Manchester United defenders Phil and Gary Neville, who had both criticised the keeper in recent weeks.
– Strong character –
“Liverpool FC is a long-term project. We know we have to be as successful as soon as possible and I’m not interested in public pressure but I didn’t want to put Loris through it,” Klopp said.
“I know how strong a character he is. But there was no need to put him through this pressure, especially seeing as we have such a good goalkeeper as Simon Mignolet to call upon.
“It’s all OK and it was the right decision but telling Loris he wasn’t playing against Middlesbrough wasn’t the best moment in life.”
Mignolet can expect to keep his place after a gruelling run of five leagues in 19 days got off to the best possible start with Liverpool’s first win at the Riverside Stadium for more than 14 years.
Klopp added: “The performance was really good and the great thing is that the players listened to what we said, then went out and did exactly what we asked them do.
“We could have scored more but it was a really good display.”
Adam Lallana grabbed most of the plaudits as the England midfielder scored twice and set up the third for Divock Origi to find the net for the fifth consecutive game — the best run by a Liverpool player since Daniel Sturridge enjoyed a prolific eight-match run in 2014.
Middlesbrough are the Premier League’s lowest scorers and their troubles in front of goal left them three points above the relegation zone.
They face a key survival battle at home to third-bottom Swansea at the weekend, and Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka admitted: “We lost against one of the best teams we have played against this season.
“It’s no coincidence they are where they are in the league — they are candidates to be champions.
“When they play the 11 players they fielded against us, with their quality, it is difficult.”