Football: Klopp wary of hungry Black Cats

Juergen Klopp celebrates after the game against Leicester.
Juergen Klopp celebrates after the game against Leicester.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Juergen Klopp insists Liverpool will not take Premier League strugglers Sunderland lightly after ending high-flying Leicester's long unbeaten run.

The Reds became the first side to stop Leicester scoring in the league this season as Claudio Ranieri's team were beaten 1-0 at Anfield on Saturday - their first defeat since September. That was Liverpool's first win in five games but they go to Sunderland today on the back of successive away defeats in the Premier League.

Klopp therefore insists his side has no right to take anything for granted, despite Sunderland's position in the relegation zone and their chastening 4-1 defeat by Manchester City in their last game.

"There's no doubt about the quality of the players, the character. What we have to create is a stable level of performance," he said. "We have to be concentrated from the first second, like we were against Leicester.

"We have no doubt as to the mentality of the team. Nobody in the team thinks, 'It's only Sunderland.'

"We want to develop and get more points in these very important moments in the league."

He expects Sunderland to be desperate to bounce back from their defeat at City and so will prepare his players for a physical battle.

"Second balls will be a big thing to think about. They will go back to their roots. We know what is waiting for us," said the German.

Liverpool will not rush back striker Daniel Sturridge, who has returned to training following his latest four-match injury absence with a hamstring strain, and are awaiting the results of a scan on a hamstring injury Divock Origi suffered against Leicester.

Winger Jordon Ibe could return following illness, but defender Martin Skrtel and midfielder James Milner are still missing.

Meanwhile, Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce is set to take a risk by turning to veteran defender Wes Brown.

The former England international is in line for only his second appearance since May, with his most recent coming in last month's 6-2 defeat at Everton.

The 36-year-old is on standby to replace former Manchester United team-mate John O'Shea, who is struggling with a calf problem picked up in the City defeat that left the Black Cats second-last.

Allardyce is ready to change his formation to protect Brown. He said: "Wes hasn't played much football this season so that would be a bit of a concern. But that will be the case if John doesn't make it."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2015, with the headline 'Klopp wary of hungry Black Cats'. Print Edition | Subscribe