MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

Jurgen Klopp grabs journalist in headlock at the AXA – “For the 12.30 kickoff!”

Jurgen Klopp was in a playful mood as Liverpool returned to training, jokingly grabbing a Sky Sports reporter in a headlock over Saturday’s 12.30pm kickoff.

The Reds will play the Saturday 12.30pm fixture directly after the international break for the third time in a row this season, as they travel to Man City.

While the real reason for the early kickoff is due to instruction from the local safety advisory group, Klopp still took his frustration out on the broadcasters.

As he spoke to Sky Sports’ Vinny O’Connor during a session at the AXA Training Centre on Thursday, the manager grabbed the reporter in a playful headlock.

“Thank you for the 12.30!” he joked as he delivered a light punch to the stomach.

Sky Sports had, in fact, requested a 5.30pm kickoff for the top-of-the-table clash, but this was rejected after consultation with police.

This is due to security concerns with such a high-profile and often heated fixture taking place on a Saturday night in Manchester.

The UK’s two main sports broadcasters have therefore effectively swapped slots, with Sky Sports taking the 12.30pm slot usually aired on TNT Sports while Brentford vs. Arsenal will kick off at 5.30pm on the latter.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 8, 2023: Liverpool's players during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Toulouse FC and Liverpool FC. (Photo by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

While O’Connor spoke to Klopp about the exploits of England U21s on Tuesday – with Harvey Elliott and Tyler Morton both scoring in a 3-0 win over Northern Ireland that also saw Jarell Quansah start – a strong Liverpool squad trained in the background.

The club had already confirmed that Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez, Ryan Gravenberch and Curtis Jones were all back from injury, while the South American contingent had all returned after a long-haul flight.

Thiago (hip), Andy Robertson (shoulder) and Stefan Bajcetic (calf) are Liverpool’s only known injury concerns for the trip to Man City.