LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 29, 2023: Liverpool's Wataru Endo during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp says under-fire Wataru Endo will “definitely” start in Premier League

Wataru Endo faced criticism for his performance against Toulouse, but Jurgen Klopp insists the midfielder will “definitely start games in the Premier League.”

With Alexis Mac Allister suspended for the visit of Brentford on Sunday, the expectation is that Endo will come in as deep-lying midfielder.

That set up Thursday’s clash with Toulouse as an opportunity to impress and build rhythm, but the Japan captain struggled and, having already been booked, was brought off at half-time.

Mac Allister will miss the game either way, but this has now thrown Endo’s chances of starting into question.

But speaking in a pre-Brentford press conference recorded before the 3-2 Europa League defeat, Klopp gave backing to his long-term project.

“Wataru was, for us, all the time very important,” the manager said.

“That’s again another part of football: you line up an XI, they play well and then you think the others don’t do well. That’s not true.

“Wataru makes steps every day and that’s important. We had stories like this in the past.

“This year it looks a little bit different, that players maybe fit in a bit quicker, but we had stories.

Andy Robertson didn’t play for half a year, nobody can remember it anymore but it was like that.

“Other players as well had their struggles in the beginning. That’s all fine. He didn’t even struggle, we played pretty good, successful and he is super-important for us.

“He played a lot of games. If he plays all the games, you say, ‘he is not starting in the Premier League‘.

“It’s nothing to do with the Premier League or whatever, it’s a little bit rhythm. But he will definitely start games in the Premier League, 100 percent.”

TOULOUSE, ENGLAND - Thursday, November 9, 2023: Liverpool's Wataru Endo during the UEFA Europa League Group E match-day 4 game between Toulouse FC and Liverpool FC at the Stadium de Toulouse. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Whether things have changed in Klopp’s mind since the loss to Toulouse remains to be seen, with Endo’s sluggishness seeing him go close to a red card.

The timing of his pre-recorded press conference confuses matters, but the likelihood is that the German’s faith will not have wavered and Endo will start alongside Dominik Szoboszlai and Harvey Elliott.

Klopp’s reference to Robertson’s slow start – which was also seen with the likes of Fabinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain over the years – is certainly worthwhile.

But with Thiago, Stefan Bajcetic, Curtis Jones and likely Ryan Gravenberch all due to miss the clash with Brentford, the Reds can ill afford their No. 3 to be off pace.