Our focus is on the derby: Klopp

Danny Ings, whose last league start for Liverpool came in a Merseyside derby in 2015, may get the nod against Everton again today.
Danny Ings, whose last league start for Liverpool came in a Merseyside derby in 2015, may get the nod against Everton again today.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Liverpool manager says Salah is touch and go, but Ings in line to start against Everton

LONDON • Liverpool's comprehensive 3-0 victory over Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie was perhaps beyond Jurgen Klopp's wildest dreams, but has left him with an interesting dilemma going into today's Merseyside derby at Everton.

The 231st match between both sides comes three days before the return leg against City, which they will go into as favourites to reach the last four for the first time since 2008. Yet with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich widely expected to make up the other semi-finalists, Klopp will be aware his team would be the outsiders to win the trophy.

It means that, if they are to be in the Champions League next season, their best hope would be to finish in the EPL's top four.

And despite their healthy league position, that means there is little scope for taking their foot off the pedal when they travel to Goodison Park. Apart from anything else, their fans would not tolerate it.

Mohamed Salah, the leading scorer in the league with 29 goals, limped off seven minutes into the second half of their City victory. Klopp said it was still touch and go whether the Egypt forward would be available against an Everton side that "will be motivated on the highest level this weekend".

"You can imagine we have tried everything to make him (Salah) available," said Klopp at his pre-match press conference. "(There are) still 23 hours to go until we start. So let's see what happens.

"I cannot make Mo available because it's the derby... If he is a doubt, he will not be involved.

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    Jurgen Klopp is unbeaten in five games against Everton since taking over as Liverpool manager in 2015.

"That's how it is with all of them; if they are not 100 per cent fit, they cannot be involved."

The German, however, hinted that Danny Ings was in line to make the first start of his tenure, calling it a "good moment" for the English striker, who has been sidelined by two serious knee injuries since Klopp took over in October 2015.

"Thank God Danny is here and in a good shape. I would not guarantee it but it doesn't look too bad that he could start tomorrow. That's great for me," he said.

Klopp, who has never been beaten in his five Merseyside derbies to date with four wins and one draw, is well aware that bragging rights will be on the line.

"The derby is the most important game for all the people so that's how we have to take it," he added.

"But in this very special game, we have to show up and nobody cares how difficult it is for one or the other side. We have to deliver, we know that, and that's what we want to try."

The 50-year-old, however, dismissed suggestions that he might rest key players ahead of their Etihad clash on Tuesday.

"The only way to really work in this job is to be focused always on the next game - and that is Everton. Then after the game, you have to see what you can do with that," he said. "I said it before, the next game is never the reason for rotation, it's always the last game.

"If I think after the last game, we have to do this or that then we will do it, but it is never anything to do with the next game."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2018, with the headline 'Our focus is on the derby: Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe