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Klopp plots pre-Christmas turnover with Liverpool

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (L) fights for the ball with Stoke City’s Kurt Zouma during their English Premier League match, at the Bet365 Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, on November 29, 2017 © AFP / Geoff CADDICK

STOKE-ON-TRENT, United Kingdom, Nov 30 – Manager Jurgen Klopp believes he has the options to nurse Liverpool’s squad through their hectic pre-Christmas period after seeing his side win 3-0 at Stoke City.

Klopp brought goalscorer Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino back into his starting line-up at the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday, with Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho among those who dropped out.

He feels he has the depth to get through the six games before Christmas despite being forced to play an unfit Dejan Lovren in defence after Ragnar Klavan pulled out through illness.

“I’m happy about the options we have,” said the German after a victory that lifted Liverpool to fifth place in the Premier League table.

“Ragnar Klavan was ill and Dejan Lovren not fit. If ‘Raggy’ was fit, Dejan Lovren would not have been in the squad, but he started.

“We have options to change it. Adam Lallana is not fit for another three or four days, but I’m happy about our options.”

Klopp saw Mane open the scoring before Salah stepped off the bench to score twice and take his tally for the season to 17 goals in all competitions.

He also handed a full Premier League debut to teenage striker Dominic Solanke, who was recently capped by England for the first time.

– Hughes castigates officials –

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Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates at the end of their English Premier League match against Stoke City, at the Bet365 Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, on November 29, 2017 © AFP / Geoff CADDICK

“Thank God Salah keeps scoring,” said Klopp of the Egypt forward, who is the Premier League’s leading scorer with 12 goals.

“It’s good. It was difficult for all the players coming on in these (cold) temperatures. Sitting on the bench is not too nice, but it worked really well with two fantastic goals.

“It was good for Mane. Now he needs rhythm. We all know with him in one or two situations if he is in a ‘click’ moment he can score as well in these situations, but it’s all good.

“Dominic should have scored. He is a fantastic boy, it was well deserved and I am really happy we could do that for him in this situation.

“He can improve in pretty much everything, but he is already a very good player so that is the good news. He has to work like all the others, but everybody who is with England thought, ‘That is good.’”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes was understandably furious that Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was not sent off for tripping Mame Biram Diouf on the edge of the box just before half-time.

With his team having won just twice in 13 games in all competitions, Hughes is under increasing scrutiny.

“It’s frustrating,” said the Welshman, whose side fell to 16th place.

“The one thing you want from referees and officials is to get the big, key decisions right — the match-defining decisions — and he didn’t.

“Credit to Liverpool, they’re a very strong side. Look at the talent they had on the pitch and they had the luxury of being able to bring a lot of talent off the bench as well.

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“We’re disappointed that we lost 3-0, but you need the officials to help you sometimes against the big clubs.”

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