Belfast Telegraph

Learning English helped Sakho

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho admits getting to grips with the English language changed his fortunes on the pitch.

The France international struggled to settle in during his first 18 months after arriving from Paris St Germain for £18million in the summer of 2013.

He made 24 appearances in his first season but never really looked comfortable and this campaign started even worse as he walked out of Anfield after not being selected for September's Merseyside derby and then sustained a thigh injury which sidelined him for three months.

However, since returning in mid-December he has been a virtual ever-present, missing just five matches with another injury, and has made a noticeable improvement.

The 25-year-old puts much of that down to him learning English.

"Do I finally feel happy at Liverpool? Yes, I feel good. The most difficult thing has been the language," he told L'Equipe.

"I am a man of strong character so when I can't express myself I am always frustrated, and if I cannot make myself understood it is even worse.

"Some people said that I should be speaking French and that would allow me to release the tension a bit, except that when I spoke in French on the pitch nobody understood what I was saying.

"I said to myself: 'This is useless - I really must learn'. It took time but now it is very good."

Sakho has put his fit of pique ahead of the first derby this season behind him and is grateful fans appear to have forgiven him also.

"I said sorry - it is all over," he added.

"In England the supporters don't hold a grudge. In France, especially, it was talked about a lot negatively."

While Sakho is back in his homeland preparing for international friendlies against Brazil and Denmark club-mates, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana are back at the Reds' Melwood training ground after injury forced them to withdraw from the England squad for a Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania and friendly in Italy.

Lallana never reported for duty after coming off with a groin injury at half-time during Sunday's defeat at home to Manchester United.

Sturridge attended the national training base at St George's Park where he underwent a scan which revealed a hip problem and as a result he was sent back to his club.

The pair will be monitored over the next week but Press Association Sport understands Liverpool are hopeful both injuries are not serious and both will have a chance of being fit for the trip to Arsenal on April 4, a match which now has even greater significance in the wake of the United defeat which damaged their top-four ambitions.

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