Belfast Telegraph

I'd love to win derby but won't risk Salah, says Klopp

Thinking ahead: Jurgen Klopp will shuffle his Reds pack for today's derby
Thinking ahead: Jurgen Klopp will shuffle his Reds pack for today's derby

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is not prepared to take a risk with the Premier League's leading scorer Mohamed Salah in the 231st Merseyside derby.

The Egypt international, whose haul of 38 goals this season includes 29 in the league, was forced off with a groin injury during Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League quarter-final victory over Manchester City.

With the second leg at the Etihad only three days away, Salah faces a race against time to be fit with Klopp in no mood to throw him into the blood and thunder of a match against Everton at Goodison Park today.

"First of all I don't think it makes sense to start talking here about what we do with the boys in rehab," said Klopp.

"But of course you can imagine we try everything to make him available. Still there are 23 hours to go so let's see what happens," he added yesterday.

"I cannot make Mo available because it is the derby. I would never do that, it is not possible.

"You cannot push a player through a game. I don't think any of our supporters would want us to do that. If he is a doubt he will not be involved, that is how it is.

"That is how it is with all of them, if they are not 100 per cent fit they cannot be involved.

"But I would not rest a player with absolutely nothing, because we are used to playing every three days, that's not the problem."

In Salah's absence Danny Ings looks set for his first start under Klopp, two and a half years after the German arrived as Brendan Rodgers' replacement.

Ings' last goal actually came against Everton at Goodison in Rodgers' final game, a 1-1 draw, but he then sustained two serious knee injuries which sidelined him for the best part of two seasons. But it appears Klopp is ready to finally give him a run-out from the off.

"Thank God Danny is here and in a good shape. I will not guarantee it but it doesn't look too bad he could start," said the Reds boss.

Klopp has a raft of injuries to contend with as Emre Can has not recovered from a back problem which has sidelined him since before the international break while fellow midfielders Adam Lallana and Ben Woodburn and defenders Ragnar Klavan, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are all out.

On Wednesday he put under-23 Republic of Ireland centre-back Conor Masterson on the bench as he had only two fit centre-backs in Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren.

Unusually for Klopp he would not elaborate on the fitness of his injured players but insisted he was not in the business of holding anyone back for next week's second leg.

"You cannot do it like this because you have no clue, anything can happen overnight," he said.

"The only way to work in this job is to be focused on the next game and that is Everton.

"We have already a difficult situation, everyone knows that.

"We have to consider pretty much everything but we need to have a line-up to give us an opportunity to win the game and that is what we will try."

Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce knows the fixture calendar has presented Everton with what could be a golden opportunity to end their long winless run in the Merseyside derby.

It is more than seven years and 16 matches since the blue half of the city was able to celebrate victory over their closest rivals, with Liverpool winning four of the last five encounters.

But the derby is the filling in the sandwich of Liverpool's Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City and, after the Reds' stunning 3-0 victory at Anfield on Wednesday, they head into today's match with more than half an eye on the second leg.

Allardyce is hoping to exploit that, saying: "I think it's an advantage we could possibly take.

"If we had to play Liverpool in a derby match, it's a good time to do that, I don't think there's any doubt about that," he added.

Premier League fixtures (3pm unless stated: Today: Everton v Liverpool (12.30), Bournemouthv Crystal Palace, Brighton v Huddersfield Town, Leicester City v Newcastle United, Stoke City v Tottenham, Watford v Burnley, West Brom v Swansea City, Manchester City v Manchester United (5.30)

Tomorrow: Arsenal v Southampton (2.15), Chelsea v West Ham (4.30)

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