Marko Grujic has been compared to a German midfield icon, ahead of the Liverpool loanee’s 15th Bundesliga appearance for Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
The Reds return to Anfield this weekend as relegation candidates Burnley make the trip to Merseyside, with Jurgen Klopp‘s side needing the three points after falling behind Man City at the top of the table.
All eyes will be on that midday kickoff on Sunday, but elsewhere over the next four days a host of interesting stories will play out with the club’s loan stars.
One of the most prominent comes with Grujic, who has now played more games in the German top flight (14) than in both the Premier League (eight) and the Championship (13).
Saturday will mark his 15th league outing for Hertha, and manager Pal Dardai has made a flattering comparison with the Serb in the buildup to their clash with Freiburg.
“He was tall, too, but very safe on the ball despite that, and he always knew when to calm down the team, when to go into a duel and when to move forward. You either have that ability or you don’t.”
After scoring his third goal for Hertha with the winner in last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Mainz, Grujic can build on this with another top display at Schwarzwald-Stadion.
Ings will join the Saints on a permanent £20 million deal in July, but with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side in no way clear of the relegation zone with nine games left to play they could rue this decision by then.
Remarkably, Ings is still Southampton‘s top goalscorer this season, with eight, three of which have come under Hasenhuttl, but he has played just 434 minutes since the Austrian’s arrival in December due to injury.
He is set to miss his fifth consecutive game for the club on Saturday as they host Tottenham in the league, and this is likely to be another step closer to the drop.
So far, Ings’ longest run of appearances without injury at Southampton is seven, and Hasenhuttl told reporters on Thursday that he wouldn’t “take any risks” with his striker’s fitness, targeting a return after the international break.
Unfortunately, they could well have fallen into the relegation places by then.
While Ings has been unable to string together a regular run of games this season, Herbie Kane has played 3,341 minutes over 39 outings so far in his first campaign as a senior professional.
He has been a model of consistency at Doncaster Rovers, and has contributed seven goals and nine assists from his central midfield berth to establish himself as a key man for Grant McCann.
Unfortunately, this exposure to first-team football appears to have come at a cost, with McCann explaining ahead of the Dons’ trip to Wimbledon that Kane is struggling with a persistent groin injury that will need to be “nursed”:
“He’s fine, but we’ve just got to be careful with people like him and Mallik Wilks that have played a lot of games.
“He’s OK. It’s just that he’s played a lot of football and this is his first year that he’s probably done this in his career.
“We’ve just got to manage him to make sure he’s right for the weekends.”
McCann also described Kane as “one of the best midfield players in the league” when fit, which provides further impetus to ensure he doesn’t sustain more long-term damage in the months to come.
Liverpool’s Loanees This Weekend
- Ryan Kent (Rangers) – Hibernian (A), Friday 7.45pm
- Adam Bogdan (Hibernian) – Rangers (H), Friday 7.45pm
- Marko Grujic (Hertha Berlin) – Freiburg (A), Saturday 2.30pm
- Nathaniel Clyne (Bournemouth) – Huddersfield (A), Saturday 3pm
- Harry Wilson (Derby) – Sheff Wednesday (H), Saturday 3pm
- Ovie Ejaria (Reading) – Wigan (H), Saturday 3pm
- Herbie Kane (Doncaster) – Wimbledon (A), Saturday 3pm
- Sheyi Ojo (Reims) – Dijon (A), Saturday 7pm
- Loris Karius (Besiktas) – Konyaspor (H), Sunday 4pm
- Taiwo Awoniyi (Mouscron) – Sint Truiden (H), Sunday 5pm
- Allan Rodrigues (Fluminense) – Cabofriense (H), Sunday 7pm
- Kamil Grabara (AGF Aarhus) – OB (H), Monday 6pm
- Liam Millar (Kilmarnock) – St Mirren (A), Monday 7.45pm