Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is confident he can find a way to successfully pair strikers Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge in the same team – but he needs both to be fit first.
Benteke is back in contention after coming off the bench in Thursday’s 1-1 Europa League draw with Rubin Kazan after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.
However, Sturridge is set to have an ultrasound scan on the swollen knee which has kept him out of the last two matches and makes him a doubt for Sunday’s visit of Southampton.
“Today we have another treatment and another scan maybe because there is a little bit of fluid (inside the joint),” said Klopp of the problem.
“If he can train, for example, tomorrow completely normally then it is an option.”
The debate about how the two fit into the same side has been on-going since the Belgium international joined in the summer and while injuries meant predecessor Brendan Rodgers did not have to tackle that issue Klopp is confident they can perform in combination.
“All good players can play together, it depends how they work for the team,” he added.
“We have to use that when they are fit and that is the moment when I have to start thinking about this because in these short times between games it is really difficult to think about the game when they can play together.
“We cannot play with two or three players offensive players who only stay up front.
“A world-class team with the best striker, for example, Barcelona can leave them because they have perfect counter-pressing and ball stealing so it’s not a bad idea.
“They (Sturridge and Benteke) can play together, that is no problem, but we have to think about how we can do it with the rest of the team.
“But if they make five goals a game we will find a way how to defend without them if they don’t want to defend but they will defend, for sure. That is not a problem.”
Klopp echoed a mantra harping back to the 1980s when Liverpool were in their pomp.
Then it was said Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish, the most devastating front two combination in the club’s history, were the team’s first line of defence.
“Isn’t it one of the oldest things you say about football – defending begins far away [from your goal]?” said the German.
“They don’t have to run back to our box with our centre-backs, they have to close spaces so the rest can defend easier.
“They have to find the right spaces to cause the opponent the biggest problems.
“It is not the hardest job in the world; if you do it in an intelligent way it is easier for the rest to defend and win the ball.
“All strikers have to defend; Cristiano Ronaldo has to defend in his own way.”
In regards to another injured player, Jordan Rossiter, Klopp said he would be speaking to someone from the Football Association in the next few days after likening their handling of the youngster by England’s Under-19s to that of a horse when he played three 90-minute matches in six days and returned with a hamstring problem.
“I need to learn to sometimes to use other words for things,” he said of his criticism on Wednesday.
“Of course I was not happy with the situation but I could have informed them before I talked to you.
“We will have a talk in the next few days.”