EPL

Klopp hints at Van Dijk absence for Man City cup tie

By Sports Desk December 16, 2022

Jurgen Klopp has suggested he will not consider selecting Virgil van Dijk for Liverpool's return to action against Manchester City next week.

Van Dijk returned to training with Liverpool in Dubai this week on the back of the Netherlands' elimination from the World Cup against Argentina last Friday.

The 31-year-old played a full part in all five of his country's matches in Qatar – including extra time in the quarter-final loss to Argentina – totalling 480 minutes of action.

However, while Klopp does not want to rush Van Dijk's comeback, he has yet to make a call on England duo Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Henderson did not finish any of the three England matches he started, while Alexander-Arnold managed just 33 minutes on the field across the Three Lions' five matches.

"Yes, there's a chance, of course – they're training already," Klopp told Liverpool's official website when asked if any returning World Cup players would be in action against City.

"Hendo is already training here. Virgil is training here, but I don't think we will try that. Hendo we will see, Trent we will see. 

"But this group worked now together for nearly two weeks and we made a real step and that's cool. I don't know in this moment.

"I hope we all get through it and we all know in England, and in Europe in general, there's kind of a virus going around, so we hope we can stay out of that. 

"Then we'll make the decision obviously on Wednesday who can play on Thursday. But it's good and will be a very interesting game after that period, but I'm looking forward to it."

Liverpool defeated Milan 4-1 in their second mid-season friendly on Friday, with Darwin Nunez – who suffered early World Cup heartbreak with Uruguay – scoring twice.

Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara were also on target for Liverpool in the United Arab Emirates, where Klopp used 22 different players, including a number of youngsters.

"In general, tonight was the result of the last 10 days what we saw in training and tonight we could bring it on the pitch, which is obviously nice," Klopp said.

"I'm not sure the academy [players] could watch the game tonight but when you see these boys and performing in a game like this, it's cool. 

"It's a real physical game, adult football is a physical game and the boys need to make these steps so they can get ready for it step by step. 

"The physical part will come but until you are that strong, you can create a lot of ideas, you can do things a bit smarter. 

"There was a lot of really good things tonight and that's why we play football. We want to see good football games."

Liverpool's trip to the Etihad Stadium is followed four days later by a visit to Aston Villa on their return to Premier League action, before hosting Leicester City on December 30.

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    On Tuesday, The Football Association (FA) confirmed Southgate was stepping down as England manager following the 2-1 Euro 2024 final defeat to Spain.

    The 53-year-old led the Three Lions to two European Championship finals during his eight-year spell in charge, managing 102 games during his tenure, and winning 61 of those.

    Speculation over who will become the next England manager is rife, with Howe reportedly on the FA's list of targets.

    Anderton, who played in Euro 1996, believes the Newcastle United manager would be the perfect fit.

    "It's no surprise that he has been touted for it. I think it's something that's been talked about for quite a few years actually, that he's got all the credentials from coaching wise to the job he's done at Bournemouth and then, of course, Newcastle," Anderton told Stats Perform.

    "That was a lot of pressure to go up there and do what he's done when Newcastle were really, really struggling. I think that he's loved up there, fans love him, players love him, so I would not be surprised, and he would be for me, he's the one to do it and he's got the right mentality.

    "I see some way Gareth handles things. I see Eddie in the same way, so for me, he would be the one to be offered the opportunity."

    Another name rumoured to be an option is former Tottenham, Paris Saint-Germain Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino, who is still out of management following his departure from the Blues after just one year in charge.

    "Yeah, I think if it's not going to be an Englishman, if it's not going to be Eddie, then Pochettino all day long for me," Anderton added.

    "I think he's done great things with young players starting at Southampton, playing a brand of football, coming to Tottenham, getting the best out of players, young players, making them better players, giving them the freedom to play and express themselves.

    "Pochettino would be fantastic, I think. The only thing that goes against him, I would say, is not being English."

    Pochettino is not the only former Chelsea boss linked with the position, with Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter also reportedly in the running, though Anderton thinks the latter is the more likely candidate.

    "[Tuchel is] a top coach, top manager who has done it [at a high level]," Anderton said. "Some jobs he's been better than others, but I can see why his name's thrown in there. But I don't see him as the man to take over.

    "[Potter is] an English manager. I think we all probably would prefer that.

    "Brighton were a fantastic watch. Whether he's coached enough to then take on this job, that would be my worry. And of course, his last job [at Chelsea] didn't go as he would have liked."

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    He would follow Southgate's route into the top job in that case, and Anderton noted the FA could look to follow that model again, though he is concerned about Carsley's pedigree.

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    Southgate announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down as England manager following their heartbreaking Euro 2024 final defeat to Spain.

    It was the second successive European Championships final under the 53-year-old since he took over from Sam Allardyce in September 2016.

    He won 61 of his 102 matches in charge of the national team, while also leading them to the World Cup semi-finals and quarter-finals.

    Kane was the most-used player during his tenure, making 81 of his 98 appearances under Southgate, who first gave the forward the captain's armband.

    "Boss. Thank you for everything you have done for me and our country!" Kane said in a post on X.

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    "There have been so many highlights, and we've made memories together that will last forever! Good luck with your next chapter, and I'm sure we'll see each other around. Thanks Boss!"

    Luke Shaw, who made 28 appearances under Southgate, including both Euros finals, also echoed the England captain's praise in his tribute to Southgate.

    "Gareth, you put everything into this team and brought this nation together with so many amazing memories!" Shaw posted on Instagram.

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    Jamie Carragher has refused to blame Gareth Southgate for England's Euro 2024 final defeat, saying the Three Lions' star players froze when it mattered most.

    England were deservedly beaten 2-1 by Spain in Sunday's Berlin showpiece, with Mikel Oyarzabal scoring the winner after Cole Palmer cancelled out Nico Williams' opener.

    The Three Lions struggled for control throughout the game, enjoying just 34.9% of the possession as Spain accumulated 1.77 expected goals (xG) to their 0.55.

    It was a familiar sinking feeling for Southgate, who was also criticised for England's failure to maintain control when leading against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

    England lost possession 98 times in total and completed only 66.5% of passes in Spain's half, with only Luke Shaw and Bukayo Saka completing over 90% of their passes among the Three Lions' starters.

    Despite Southgate facing criticism once more, former defender Carragher refused to lay blame at the manager's door, saying England's best players failed to show up.

    Carragher wrote on X: "Sven [Goran Eriksson] played 4-4-2, Fabio [Capello] was too strict, Gareth is too defensive! Funny how it's always on the manager isn't it?

    "The fact is our big players didn't turn up in this tournament. And at other tournaments going back years.

    "I have no relationship at all with Southgate. I feel he has been cautious from the bench throughout his time, but in this tournament the substitutes have been great. 

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    While Jude Bellingham teed up Palmer's equaliser, he only completed 67.7% of his passes, with only Jordan Pickford (55.6%) faring worse among all 22 starters.

    Captain Harry Kane was another to struggle, failing to record a single touch in the Spain area before he was withdrawn for Ollie Watkins midway through the second half.

    Across the Euro 2020 and Euro 2024 finals, Kane had just one touch in the opposition's area, one fewer than Jack Grealish had. Grealish played 21 minutes in the 2020 final and did not make the 2024 squad.

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