Q&AJürgen Klopp press conference: Luton, squad flexibility, Cody Gakpo and more

By Joe Urquhart, James Carroll and Sam Williams


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Jürgen Klopp covered a wide range of topics during his pre-Luton Town press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

The Liverpool boss previewed the midweek Premier League meeting with the Hatters at Anfield by answering questions from reporters at the AXA Training Centre.

Read on for a summary of what he had to say ahead of the 7.30pm GMT kick-off…

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NewsLFC injury update: Jones, Jota, Alisson, Alexander-Arnold and SzoboszlaiJürgen Klopp has provided a further update on the injuries Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota suffered at Brentford last weekend.

On the positive of the younger players in his squad stepping up and delivering when needed this season...

We are where we are because of them. That's how it is because the boys really delivered. We will see how many of them we have to use and [we] will give [them] the opportunity because obviously in a good moment they all can be in. That's how it is. We have some options there, definitely – players who showed already what they can do like James [McConnell] or Bobby [Clark] and others even who didn't feature yet who are in and around that. [Lewis] Koumas, [Jayden] Danns; massive talents. Trey [Nyoni], they are all massive talents. So, we will see what we will do, but [for] now we are just planning for tomorrow and from there we go.

On Roy Hodgson standing down as Crystal Palace manager...

I think I said a couple of times I don't really understand why he is still doing the job! With my situation he'll probably understand a bit better, but I don't understand what he is doing! One of the greatest I ever met, definitely, for that long time in the business [he is a] human full of experience. [He] trend-set in the beginning; he kept his idea. It's always like this when it's not going well. That's the problem in our business then people forget a little bit how good the times were before. I think Crystal Palace could be like that if there were some supporters who were shouting for him to get the sack. They definitely forgot how good a job he did in the few times when he was there.

I hope he is doing well. I hope because that obviously was a shock last week when I heard about that he was taken ill in training. That's nothing that should happen at all. I hope he is doing well and when he is doing well then I wish him just the very best of times that he can have and stay healthy. That would be the most important but it's a bit of a shame that I couldn't say properly goodbye to him because we faced each other quite frequently and like each other a lot. But, yeah, that's not the biggest problem.

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On having respect for Luton's threat at set-pieces...

We always do. We always have to. There is no team in the Premier League who doesn't deserve the respect around their offensive set-pieces because it is a situation where you get completely differently judged in England, I am long enough here to know that, but it is like this. You are completely differently judged in England like you are in other countries. The six-yard box is just another area where everybody can connect pretty actively, I would say, around the goalkeeper, so we have to be really spot on in these moments. Yes, I saw the game against [Manchester] United and saw other cuts of other games as well, so set-pieces are one strength but I have to say the way they play their system [and] the confidence level, because they are in a good moment if you go through the results in the last few weeks, it is incredible. In the end, it is still only 20 points if I am right, but even the games they lost they were really in the game.

We experienced a tough game there, but that was a completely different game to how they act now. At that time they were rather passive, deep defending, counter-attacking... they have that still, but now in possession they found a structure where everybody feels really comfortable. I think Ross Barkley is one of these nice stories, if you want, who really is back to his best – or better. Plays a deeper role, super discipline, on the ball very strong. [Albert Sambi] Lokonga when you see him playing, you think, 'Oh... he is an Arsenal player and they loaned him? Interesting!' Really, really strong and then the experience and all these things. Again, they obviously are really together. I think the situation at Bournemouth a few weeks ago, or months ago, with their captain is something which brought them even closer together and showed them there are worse things in life than maybe getting relegated, so fight for the chance you have. That's how they show up, so I respect that a lot. In general they deserve respect and we have to show that with a proper Liverpool performance – and with a Liverpool performance I mean really everybody who enters the gate to Anfield has to be on their toes tomorrow night because they are really good.

On whether Alexis Mac Allister has a 'best position'...

Footballers, especially nowadays, can play different positions and there is absolutely no doubt about it. I had to learn that over the years as well, and I don't mean me playing or me coaching, that you can use the boys in different [positions], that you have to get rid of these clear structures, who is where. An attacker has to defend and a defender has to attack, that's the easiest way to put it. Alexis is just incredibly important for us. He always was since he is here.

That he can [play] different positions, that he has the tactical brain to do that, shows and says everything about him as a player because I don't think he is really bothered about [it]. I am not sure we ever heard anything about that, that he said, 'I would prefer to play a bit higher...' and stuff like this. We don't restrict players in these moments. They have the ball and we all have to defend; we have the ball, we all have to attack. That's as easy as it is and who is not directly involved has to protect. That's how we understand football and Alexis is a key part in that. Ask me or him in five years again what is his natural position and maybe you would be surprised.

On how flexible and adaptable he has had to be in terms of team selection due to the amount of injuries in the squad this season…

We always, or I always, had to be flexible. Always. And it's not a real problem, to be honest; as long as we have enough players available you use the boys, you know them and you know what they can do. We actually didn't see it like that, to be honest. In the moment when we had the problems with both left-backs, both natural left-backs, out, stuff like this, you find a solution and the solution worked out brilliantly.

When you don't have the sixes you would see before the season, who can play there, they are not available [so] how can you sort that? So, that is actually the job to do, I would say. As long as it is not an hour before the game because then it becomes really tricky because that's then only a little talk and hope. As long as you have a session at least then it is fine because these boys are all really good on the ball and have to be good against the ball, and that changed only slightly, probably, in different moments. Yes, we had to be flexible but that was rather good fun than a problem, to be honest. The thing is, we have now a situation… in the moment when you just got the news [about injuries], you just deal with it and you go from there and there is no excuses. We will try absolutely everything.

We said it before: there are 5,000 different ways to win a football game and we only have to find one and that should always be possible, especially at home where we can, if we are all ready, generate a dynamic where people can grow above themselves. It's just that you really become the best version of yourself and who cares then about the number on your back or the position you play? It's actually not too important, it's about what can you contribute and what can you bring to the team and that's what I think, if we didn't know it before we all learned it this year, 100 per cent. And the boys liked that as well, they liked the different approaches, let me say it like that, always based on the situation we have as a team and that's what we will keep trying.

On whether Cody Gakpo is 'going under the radar' for the season he is having after he scored his 10th goal of the campaign at Brentford…

The numbers are 100 per cent absolutely alright, or even better. But that Cody had a bit of a struggle in between the season was more my fault. Can Cody play a midfield position for us? Yes, he can, in different moments. Is it his position now? I would say no, that's not [the case]. The offensive part of the role he can definitely play, but with the defensive things, which he was not used to, that cost him a bit of confidence in moments, you could see that.

The boy who came here and was flying from day one pretty much and then all of a sudden you saw, 'OK, that's not exactly the same.' So, these things happen and will help him in the long term anyway, but in the short term you cannot always directly see it. But now he is absolutely there and as long as we can avoid that then we will probably not bring him in midfield and then it is very offensive, which again I am 100 per cent sure is possible. But it was not 'under the radar'. If you would ask Cody, he would not say it is the best season of his life but we all know how good a player he is and he is always a threat. He can be a threat in the air, he is on the ground really good, has a super finish, a good nose for finishing situations, a good dribbler, can keep the ball for us. Plenty of super things we can use and we need and yeah, that's it pretty much.



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