Liverpool may be experiencing something of a crisis in front of goal but manager Jurgen Klopp will not be taking any short cuts to solve it.
The 22 goals they have scored in 20 league matches is the lowest in their history and with Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings all injured the Reds are operating with one fit striker in Christian Benteke.
Klopp was hopeful Sturridge would be fit for this week’s double-header against Stoke in the Capital One Cup and Exeter in the FA Cup after a month out with a hamstring injury, but the player has now suffered another minor setback and will not be ready.
“Daniel had some problems, not serious, but could not make a session and we had to wait a day,” said Klopp, who has regularly referred to the last month as effectively pre-season for Sturridge.
“Because he didn’t have one session with the team it was not the usual plan for this week.
“It is how a pre-season can be. Some little things happen and we have to handle this.
“What Daniel has to do at this moment is hard work to be prepared for the things we make in a football game. He had the last complete pre-season a long time ago.
“It would be easy for me to say ‘Come on, let’s try, we have problems, we don’t score enough goals, let’s see what will happen’ but we have to wait and be patient.”
Despite the paucity of penetration up front there is absolutely no prospect of Anfield misfit Mario Balotelli being recalled from his loan spell at AC Milan after agent Mino Raiola said he wanted to speak to Klopp about the Italian’s possible return for next season.
“At this moment I don’t have the time or capacity to think about things for next summer,” said Klopp. “Maybe we will have a talk but it is nothing I can think about in this moment.”
Injuries continue to dog Klopp with Jordan Henderson likely to sit out tonight’s Capital One Cup semi-final first leg at Stoke after a recurrence of a foot problem which caused him to miss the West Ham defeat.
“The tendon in the foot is painful but we hope when the blood is out of the foot the situation will be solved,” Klopp said.
“It is not possible to train or play but we hope it is not serious.”
Liverpool are favourites heading into the tie but Stoke pose a considerable hurdle. Under Mark Hughes Stoke have become more focused on attacking football, although they have scored only 21 league goals themselves, and Klopp is an admirer of the turnaround his opposite number has achieved.
“Mark Hughes does a brilliant job there. Good scouting in the summer, maybe the biggest change in football is how Stoke played a few months or years ago and how they are playing now. That is really good,” said the German.
Klopp is two matches away from Wembley and has impressed on his players the significance of seeing things through to the end.
“It is always important because if you have the chance and you don’t try to go for it then it is a waste of time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Stoke have been successful in their appeal against the red card Geoff Cameron received in the defeat at West Brom on Saturday.
Cameron was facing a three-match suspension having been sent off for violent conduct by referee Lee Mason after pushing Claudio Yacob in the back of the neck during the Premier League game at the Hawthorns.
But the Potters announced yesterday they were appealing, and a subsequent statement from the FA said: “Geoff Cameron has had his three-match suspension withdrawn after his wrongful dismissal claim was successful.”
Cameron is now available for the Liverpool game.
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