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Cody Gakpo relishing Darwin Nunez battle with LASK starter ‘confirmed’

Cody Gakpo is expected to start up front as Liverpool host LASK in the Europa League, as he continues his “competition” with the in-form Darwin Nunez.

With UEFA rules stipulating that a player must join the manager for any pre-match press conference in Europe, it gives an early hint at the starting lineup.

Gakpo took media duties on Wednesday, with the Dutchman due to start against LASK in the penultimate group game of the Europa League.

In all likelihood that will be as a central striker, flanked by two of Luis Diaz, Mohamed Salah and Ben Doak, with Nunez expected to be named on the bench.

The pair have effectively shared minutes up front this season, though Gakpo has been used more in secondary competitions of late, rather than the Premier League.

“I think he’s doing great. Like you say, it’s like a competition,” he said of Nunez.

“But we both have to just keep working hard, being the players we can be, to help the team as much as we can.”

It is something of a turnaround from last season, when Gakpo was almost exclusively used as a striker upon his arrival from PSV Eindhoven, and preferred to Nunez as first choice.

This season, with Jurgen Klopp‘s side no longer at panic stations and able to find their rhythm again, Nunez has taken over and the Dutchman has switched between various roles.

“Obviously I’ve played in a few different positions: striker, in the midfield and left wing,” Gakpo continued.

“I think I can do better, obviously. You want to improve every day, you want to become a better player all the time.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 1, 2023: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo during the Football League Cup 4th Round match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at Dean Court. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“But I think it went well and it can be better as well. So just working hard to become a better player.”

He added: “Last season I played almost every game as a striker, this season as a striker or as a midfielder.

“I just focus on those two positions really and just show what I can do, try to be the best player I can be.”