LONDON (Reuters) – Juergen Klopp said he will wait until the last minute to decide Liverpool’s lineup for Saturday’s Premier League game with Stoke City at Anfield after Sadio Mane emerged as his latest injury doubt.
The winger sustained a thigh injury in Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against AS Roma when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also suffered knee ligament damage that has ended his season.
Klopp said Mane’s injury was “not serious” and suggested the Senegalese was only visiting a friend when he was spotted at a Liverpool hospital on Thursday.
“Sadio was just visiting a friend! Of course there is something. It’s not serious. There is a chance for tomorrow, we must wait on (him),” said Klopp at a pre-match news conference on Friday.
“I prefer to wait until the last second. We have a few little things from the (Roma) game. My idea for the lineup is to win the game. It’s not about resting players. We play Tuesday-Saturday-Wednesday, so we could play same team, if they were available.
“There won’t be a thousand changes because it’s an important Premier League game for both teams.”
Liverpool are still not guaranteed the top-four finish that would secure a place in next season’s Champions League and still need to travel to fifth-placed Chelsea, who could overtake them.
Liverpool cannot afford to relax but with Adam Lallana and Emre Can still not fit, Klopp has only three first-team midfielders available to take on a side desperately scrapping for Premier League survival.
“Chelsea could win all their remaining games. We need to make sure that’s not enough (for them to get into the top four). We are desperate for the points, just like Stoke.”
Ideally, Klopp would probably like to rest at least one of Jordan Henderson, James Milner or Gini Wijnaldum ahead of next week’s trip to Rome, but his options are severely limited.
Another midfielder Philippe Coutinho was sold to Barcelona in January and Marko Grujic, who has previously featured, was sent to Cardiff City on loan and cannot be recalled. Other fringe players have also been loaned out this season.
One possibility for Klopp might be to move Trent Alexander-Arnold into midfield, with Nathaniel Clyne or Joe Gomez coming in at full back.
Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Toby Davis