No break in momentum

Sturridge stands a good chance of returning to the Reds' starting line-up at Southampton, as they may not risk Philippe Coutinho.
Sturridge stands a good chance of returning to the Reds' starting line-up at Southampton, as they may not risk Philippe Coutinho.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Klopp insists Reds' good form is set to carry on but Lallana, Coutinho are doubts

SOUTHAMPTON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes the international break will not affect his side's momentum as they look to consolidate their position at the top of the Premier League.

The Reds, who are a point clear of Chelsea, travel to Southampton today on the back of seven wins in their last eight league fixtures. It is their best start to a Premier League season since 2008-09, with 26 points and 30 goals after 11 games.

Klopp has had less time to work with his players this week, with the majority of them away from the club's Melwood training base on duty with their national teams.

But the German remains confident that the impetus and synergy shown by his players over the course of recent weeks has "absolutely not" been impacted upon.

"Momentum is something you can talk about after the game and then we can say we have to use the momentum again, but nobody knows how it works," he said.

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"What's momentum before the game? Let's try to do our best, let's try to play football, let's try to do what we spoke about, let's try to use what we saw when we prepared for the game and all that stuff."

Liverpool are set to be without Adam Lallana for the trip to St Mary's, with the midfielder due to undergo a scan after picking up a knock during England's 2-2 friendly draw with Spain on Tuesday.

Influential playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who has scored five league goals along with five assists, underwent a scan and could be an injury doubt after featuring for Brazil in World Cup qualifying wins over Argentina and Peru.

Coutinho and Roberto Firmino were flown back by private jet with compatriots from other Premier League clubs, as Liverpool shared the cost to ensure they returned quickly. But the Reds are unlikely to risk Coutinho against the Saints if there is any concern that it could exacerbate any injury concerns.

"I would say 95 per cent is good news, but with Adam we don't know yet exactly," Klopp said.

If Coutinho is absent, Daniel Sturridge is likely to be handed a chance in attack alongside Firmino and former Saints' forward Sadio Mane.

The hosts have lost their last two league games but striker Jay Rodriguez says that has given Claude Puel's side additional motivation ahead of the visit of Klopp's men.

"After the Hull game we were very disappointed and we can't wait to put it right," said Rodriguez. "It's going to be a good battle against their strikers for our defence, but it will also be crucial to make sure we take our chances."

Puel has been handed a boost with both goalkeeper Fraser Forster and midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in contention. Left-back Ryan Bertrand and forward Dusan Tadic should also be fit, along with right-back Cedric Soares, although striker Shane Long will miss out.

"I think it's okay for Fraser and Pierre," said Puel. "They have some injuries in the last week, but they should be fine. Ryan is okay and Tadic had an injury to his nose, but he spoke with the medical team already and should be fine for Saturday's game.

"Cedric will come back and Shane Long has come back into the training sessions, but it's too soon for this game."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2016, with the headline 'No break in momentum'. Print Edition | Subscribe