WIGAN, ENGLAND - Friday, July 14, 2017: Liverpool's Adam Lallana before a preseason friendly match against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lallana in or back 3? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Brighton

Injury to Sadio Mane could hand Adam Lallana a starting role as Liverpool look to finally seal a top-four finish on the final day of the league season.

Another crucial final day awaits the Reds who take to Anfield for the last time this season needing just a point against Brighton to secure Champions League qualification.

The task seems simple but it will be made tougher with Liverpool potentially without 19-goal Mane, who presents another ill-timed injury.

It’s far from ideal just as the Reds need to get over the line to ensure a dangerous situation of having to beat Real Madrid to qualify for next season’s Champions League is avoided.

And it will force Klopp to go without his first choice forward line for a make-or-break clash, also leaving a key decision with who to deploy in the Senegalese’s absence.


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Liverpool’s XI vs. The Seagulls

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, August 23, 2017: Liverpool's Sadio Mane is replaced by substitute Ragnar Klavan by manager Jürgen Klopp during the UEFA Champions League Play-Off 2nd Leg match between Liverpool and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Unless Mane makes a recovery to 100 per-cent fitness before kick-off it’s unlikely we will see the Senegalese winger – with Klopp unlikely to take risks given what is looming on May 26.

It means the boss will be forced into a far from ideal change for a crucial final fixture at Anfield.

There are a few ways to navigate Mane’s absence, including handing Ings a starting berth on the left or Solanke one through the middle.

But the pair’s recent outings have failed to inspire, and this should persuade Klopp to immediately reintroduce Lallana – who the German said is “as fit as possible” – to the fold.

Lallana can enter into Mane’s left-side role for his first start since the Porto second leg draw back in March, joining Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in attack.

Playing Lallana instead of Ings or Solanke is arguably beneficial – as Karl Matchett explains here – so he can get some vital minutes and match practice under his belt ahead of the final in Kiev.

With Henderson set to return to midfield and the rest of the team picking itself, this XI would take on Brighton:

Klopp has had to get creative with his selection at times in the latter part of the season as injuries have mounted, and this could be the case again on Sunday.

A change of system and a different switch in personnel could arrive, with a back-three set-up a potential option given defence is the one area boasting adequate depth currently.

Klavan would be the beneficiary of Mane’s absence should Klopp take this route, with the Estonian stepping in on the left of the back-three next to Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren.

Usual full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson would take up the wing-back roles, while Henderson, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum would form a three-man midfield.

And devastating duo Firmino and Salah could play as a strike partnership in what would be close to an out-and-out 3-5-2 formation.

If all goes to plan, the starting side will get the job done efficiently to then give Klopp a chance to introduce Lallana for much-needed game-time.

The Reds are just 90 minutes from securing successive top-four finishes, and Klopp’s men must hold their nerve to claim the point needed to ensure more special nights can be made at Anfield next season.

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