Lallana insists injury crisis is unrelated to Klopp's training regimes

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Same hymnsheet: Lallana and Klopp.

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana insists Jurgen Klopp’s training regime is not to blame for a spate of hamstring problems which have brought injuries to crisis levels at Anfield.

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– La Liga: January transfer window watch

Playmaker Philippe Coutinho and defender Dejan Lovren both succumbed to hamstring issues in the 1-0 League Cup semi-final win at Stoke.

Klopp now has a total of 11 first-team players unavailable – including six either with or recovering from hamstring injuries – and the German admits it is likely to force him into the transfer market.

He currently only has one fit centre-back in Kolo Toure, who gave his manager a scare with a late bout of cramp at the Britannia Stadium.

There has been much conjecture about whether the introduction of Klopp’s ‘gegenpressing’ style mid-season after he took over from the sacked Brendan Rodgers has led to the injuries – former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness said it was time for the manager to consider modifying training – but Lallana rejected that.

“We have had a change of manager this season. When that happens lads look to impress more and give more,” said the England international. “But I don’t think these injuries have got anything to do with any changes to our training.

“We’ve had so many games recently that we’ve mainly been doing recovery sessions between games, so it’s not as if the training has been really intensive. You can’t blame that. Sometimes you are just unlucky with injuries and we’ve had a lot of bad luck recently. I know from my time at Liverpool that we’ve got a world-class medical team here. We certainly can’t point the finger at anyone.

“It’s a big blow losing Philippe and Dejan, and we just hope they aren’t going to be out for long.”

Liverpool’s packed schedule – Friday’s FA Cup trip to Exeter will be their fifth match in 14 days – is more likely to have a contributing factor, Lallana reckons.

“It’s just a physical game,” Lallana added. “Look at the amount of games we’ve had over the Christmas period. It’s been a tough run and with the demands on players nowadays there’s bound to be injuries.

“If you look at teams around the league I bet you’ll find the number of injuries has definitely increased. Not every club is in the semifinals of this competition (League Cup), playing in the Europa League and about to get going in the FA Cup on Friday night.

“But we’ll all stick together. I’m sure the lads who are out will be working extra hard to get back fit.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool on Wednesday completed the signing of Marko Grujic, 19, for £5.1million (Dh28m) and immediately loaned the midfielder back to Red Star Belgrade.

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Steven Gerrard backs Guardiola to be a Premier League success

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Eyeing a career in management: Gerrard.

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes “world-class” Pep Guardiola would be a great addition to the Premier League after the much sought-after Bayern Munich boss said he wanted to coach in England.

– Premier League: January transfer window watch
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– La Liga: January transfer window watch

Guardiola, who will turn 45 this month, said on Tuesday that the reason he was leaving the German giants at the end of the season was because he wanted to coach in England.

“Pep Guardiola is a world-class manager,” Gerrard said in Sydney ahead of a Liverpool Legends game on Thursday. “It’s looking like he is going to be coming to the Premier League which is great for us.”

Gerrard, clearly a fan of the ex-Barcelona boss, is currently reading “Pep Confidential”, a book about Guardiola’s first season at Bayern. The LA Galaxy midfielder, 35, has his own ambitions in management and is working on his coaching qualifications prior to his expected retirement from playing this year.

He said he had a “positive conversation” with current Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and was keen to remain involved with his hometown club in any capacity.

Gerrard left the English Premier League side for the Los Angeles Galaxy last year, and has been training on Merseyside during the MLS close season.

“I’ve been told I’d be welcomed back at the club which is great for me because I’ve been at Liverpool since I was eight years of age. I love the club,” he said. “I certainly had a positive conversation with Jurgen Klopp and he made me feel very welcome when I trained with the team.”

But Gerrard added that he was aware of the challenges of transitioning from playing to coaching.

I think you see the reason why a lot of top players don’t make a successful manager because it’s a completely different role,” Gerrard said.

“The exciting thing is no one knows how good I’ll be… we’ll have to wait and see. But I’m certainly going to get as much experience and as many qualifications as I can under my belt and we’ll see whether I’m good enough if one day I take the plunge.”

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League Cup: Lukaku stars in Everton win

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Match-winner: Romelu Lukaku.

In-form Romelu Lukaku’s 12th goal in as many matches gave Everton a 2-1 victory over lacklustre Manchester City in their League Cup semi-final first leg at Goodison Park on Wednesday night.

– Premier League: January transfer window watch
– Serie A: January transfer window watch
– Bundesliga: January transfer window watch
– Ligue 1: January transfer window watch
– La Liga: January transfer window watch

The Belgium international’s 19th goal of an increasingly impressive season capped a dominant Toffees’ performance against the threetime League Cup winners – but it came at a cost as the striker limped off with nine minutes to go.

Centre-back Ramiro Funes Mori had given the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time before substitute Jesus Navas’ first goal since September 2014 levelled things up with 14 minutes to go – but that lasted for less than two minutes.

Roberto Martinez’s unbeaten record at Goodison in cup matches extends to nine matches, with seven wins as manager of Everton and previously Wigan.

A talking point before kick-off was both sides’ change of goalkeeper – Martinez restoring Joel Robles for the cup competition – although there has been a clamour for the Spaniard to be given a longer run at the expense of Tim Howard, and Willy Caballero replacing Joe Hart.

They were decisions which proved to be instrumental as Everton’s number one made an excellent save from Kevin de Bruyne in the second half, while Hart might have dealt better with Ross Barkley’s shot which led to the opening goal.

Funes Mori rammed home the rebound in first-half added time after Caballero, possibly distracted by Lukaku in an offside position in front of him, pushed the ball straight back out instead of diverting it sideways away from danger.

It capped a cagey first half in which City appeared to be going through the motions – Yaya Toure a notable offender as he found himself in the pocket of the excellent Mo Besic – with De Bruyne and David Silva shooting wide and Nicolas Otamendi off-target with a header. It led to a tense atmosphere inside Goodison which was only broken by the second loudest cheer of the night, when Besic tracked back to dispossess Toure with a brilliant recovering tackle.

Everton twice had the ball in the net through John Stones and Lukaku, only to be rightly flagged for offside on both occasions – even if they did appear to benefit from the lack of a linesman’s flag when it really counted.

Robles had hardly been tested but he reacted well to parry Sergio Aguero’s shot and Funes Mori blocked the Argentinian’s rebounded effort before taking greater decisive action at the other end.

Aguero, rarely involved for an hour, sliced a good opportunity wide and Fernandinho headed into the arms of Robles – but Everton dominated the early stages of the second half.

Caballero blocked Barkley’s angled shot after muscling Otamendi off the ball, while half-time substitute Martin Demichelis almost turned Leighton Baines’ cross into his own net.

Robles’ brilliant low save from De Bruyne fully justified his inclusion but he was powerless to prevent Navas’ equaliser after Everton were caught by a rapid counter-attack which left them three on three at the back. Seamus Coleman allowed Aguero to turn him far too easily and lay on the pass for the equaliser. 

City, with all their quality and experience, should have at least seen out the game from there but Barry’s inviting cross asked to be finished off and Lukaku obliged with a powerful header. The hosts finished the match with 10 men as Coleman hobbled off with all substitutions made but the hosts saw the game out.

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