Jurgen Klopp faced a series of questions about Steven Gerrard ahead of Liverpool’s upcoming clash with Aston Villa, while providing mixed injury news from his squad.
Here are four key things from Klopp’s pre-Villa press conference…
Gerrard takes centre stage
Unsurprisingly, the return of Gerrard to Anfield – for the first time as opposition player or manager – was the main focus for journalists ahead of Saturday.
Klopp joked before his press conference that he would “not answer any questions about Steven Gerrard today,” clearly aware of what was to come.
The manager spoke well on Gerrard’s career so far, his impact at Villa and the reception he can expect at Anfield, but perhaps most interestingly, he also tipped him for the Liverpool job.
“Yes, I think it will definitely happen,” he said. “And good for everybody!”
However, he warned Gerrard of jumping into the role before he is ready, using Frank Lampard’s failure at Chelsea as a prime example.
Mixed news on Divock and Diogo
Klopp welcomed Roberto Firmino back to training on Thursday, and though the Brazilian is unlikely to be involved against Villa after such a long layoff, it is positive news for the Reds.
The manager faces a difficult decision up front for Saturday, however, with question marks over the fitness of Diogo Jota.
Jota and Divock Origi both missed the midweek session, though Klopp is more optimistic over the latter’s availability, having simply been given another recovery day.
“Diogo felt something after the last Premier League game and didn’t train yet,” he said of Jota.
“We will see, maybe he can train today, then he is an option. If not, then not.”
Bad news for Nat
One player who is definitely ruled out is Nat Phillips, who suffered a broken cheekbone in his first start of the season against AC Milan.
“It’s not as bad as it could have been,” Klopp said.
“So no surgery needed and he can pretty much train from next week on, but reduced because everything that would hit him in the face could cause proper damage.”
Liverpool expect Phillips to be out for around four to five weeks, which may mean he has played his last game for the club, with a January transfer mooted.
Big praise for Fabinho
Klopp was relieved when the subject turned, albeit briefly, from Gerrard to one of his own players, with the manager asked about the importance of Fabinho.
“Everybody wants Fabinho in his team,” he said.
“Especially after one day working with him, you want him in your team definitely.”
The manager added: “He’s a top, top, top, top, top-class player that is hopefully very long at this club and hopefully very good at the weekend.”