Belfast Telegraph

Jurgen Klopp is backing Daniel Sturridge as Rafa returns to Liverpool

By Carl Markham

Daniel Sturridge may be Liverpool's only fit striker, but boss Jurgen Klopp does not expect him to carry the goalscoring burden alone.

The England international has three goals in his last four matches and his strike in Wednesday's Merseyside derby took him to 50 for the club in just 87 matches. That is the fourth quickest in the club's history in the post-war era, beating the likes of Luis Suarez, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen.

With Divock Origi out with ankle ligament problems - Klopp refused to rule him out for the rest of the season - the responsibility falls on Sturridge.

Ahead of today's clash with Newcastle, which sees Rafa Benitez return to Anfield, Klopp insisted criticism of Sturridge was not justified.

"I think most of the time this side of the table (the media) are not interested in performance," he said. "If someone scored four goals would you say, 'Ah, but between those four goals he didn't play too well?'

"Of course the first job of a striker is to score goals, but you cannot score in each game. It is about smart behaviour in the right position, closing gaps.

"Daniel has scored goals in the last few games and he had some wonderful moments when he was a real threat to other teams.

"When Daniel was fit I was always happy with his performance. I am not interested in public opinions."

The return of Benitez, his second as an opposing manager after his previous spell as interim Chelsea boss in 2013, is expected to be warmly welcomed by Anfield.

Klopp is familiar with the situation, having made his return to former club Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League earlier this month, and has no issue with fans celebrating the occasion.

"I really like Rafa, we have met a few times," said the German.

"If someone wants to celebrate Rafa Benitez in memory of Istanbul or whatever - he is one of the most successful managers at Liverpool - they are very welcome."



Premier League:

Anfield, Today, 3.00pm

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