Daniel Sturridge may be Liverpool’s only fit striker, but manager Jurgen Klopp does not expect him to carry the goalscoring burden alone.
The England international has three goals in his last four matches and his strike in Wednesday’s Merseyside derby took him to 50 for the club in just 87 matches.
That is the fourth quickest in the club’s history in the post-war era, beating the likes of Luis Suarez, Robbie Fowler, and Michael Owen.
With Divock Origi out for at least a few weeks with ankle ligament problems - Klopp refused to rule him out for the rest of the season - the responsibility falls on Sturridge.
When he does not score the 26-year-old often attracts criticism for his overall performance, but Klopp insisted that was not justified. “I think most of the time this side of the table (the media) are not interested in performance,” he said.
“If someone scored four goals would you say, ‘Ah, but between these four goals he didn’t play too well?’ I don’t think anyone wrote this ever in his life.
“Of course the first job of a striker is to score goals, but you cannot score in each game.
“Even Gerd Muller, the most famous and best German striker we ever had, scored something like 600, but there were a few games where he didn’t score.
“Daniel has scored goals in the last few games and he had some more wonderful moments when he was a real threat to other teams.
“When Daniel was fit I was always happy with his performance. I am not interested in public opinions.”
Klopp has to decide whether to start with Sturridge for the visit of Newcastle, and the return of Liverpool’s Champions League-winning manager Rafael Benitez, today, or pick the higher-energy Roberto Firmino.
Klopp’s preference for an all-action front man saw Origi emerge first choice over the last month, but ankle ligament damage in the win over Everton put paid to that.
“It is serious, but we will try everything,” said Klopp of the Belgium international’s injury.
Benitez will return to Anfield – where the Magpies have not won in 20 league visits dating back to April 1994 – with his current club two points from safety, but with much of the talk surrounding Champions League-winning goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek’s claims in his autobiography the Spaniard was “cold”, with the Pole admitting he wanted to punch him after losing his place to Pepe Reina.
The former Reds boss said: “People say I am cold. To be fair, I am professional.”
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