Interview'We've got to keep working' - Ibou Konate on winter break, Bournemouth and responsibility

By Joe Urquhart


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Ibrahima Konate wants Liverpool to pick up where they left off following the January winter break, with the Reds refreshed and ready to attack the second half of the campaign.

Jürgen Klopp's squad sit top of the Premier League table ahead of Sunday's visit to AFC Bournemouth, and have progressed in each cup competition they have entered throughout 2023-24 so far.

The Reds are one step from Wembley in the Carabao Cup, holding a 2-1 advantage over Fulham in their two-legged semi-final tie, while they are through to the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup and last 16 of the Europa League.

Konate – who has made 22 appearances under Klopp across all competitions this term – believes he and his teammates have given themselves a good basis to work from but knows nothing has been achieved yet.

Ibrahima Konate defender
Ibrahima Konate
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"It reminds me very much of my first season here," Konate told "There are those seasons when you're involved in every competition and have the chance to win every trophy.

"We know at what point experience and hard work can play an important role at those moments in the season. But right now, we're only in January. We're top of the table but that means absolutely nothing at all.

"We've got to keep on working hard and if we can win the maximum amount of trophies possible, we'll be certainly trying to make that possible."

On the recent winter break, he added: "It's great to be back. It was a short period of time where we were able to enjoy some time with our family.

"I think that's important for each of us in the squad, but now we're back at it working really hard and it's all about now continuing where we left off in the first half of the season."

Read on for the rest of the interview with the No.5, as he discusses the season so far, his added responsibility in defence, feeling refreshed and more…

On what he got up to over the break...

All I did was rest up. I was over in Dubai, and I've got lots of friends who live in Dubai, but I didn't see a single one of them and they were all very sad they didn't get a chance to catch up, but I didn't have any choice in the matter. I think the most important thing was all about getting a good rest and at the same time be focusing on the rest of the season. We'll have plenty of time to relax at the end of the season when everything is done and dusted.

On whether he is feeling refreshed and ready for the rest of the season...

Yes, absolutely. We've had one or two training sessions already and we have two more ahead of the game, so we can be getting back used to the temperature here and fully acclimatised because on holiday it was really, really hot. And right now, it's really, really cold so that is two real opposites. But we're trying to prepare ourselves the best way we can in order to be ready for this weekend.

On assuming more responsibility in defence, particularly with Joel Matip sidelined...

The coach hasn't spoken to me in particular about that. It was more of a natural thing [he mentioned] before that Arsenal game. He did it deliberately off the cuff, but he knew what he was doing. He said, 'Who is going to be managing the defence?' And I said, 'me', but he knew very well that it was my role at that very moment.

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So yeah, what's happening now, we're all aware of what a great loss Joel is to the team, and I just wish him a really speedy recovery. But on a personal level I've always put myself forward to take responsibility and so the more time goes by I'm going to grow more as a player and I'm going to assume more and more responsibility and I have to continue contributing even more to the side. But I'm happy with what I have been doing up to now and I hope that can continue to get even better.

On facing Bournemouth on Sunday...

Every match you play in the Premier League is tough. It's never easy. There's never any one match that you can take more lightly than any other. We know that it's going to be a hard game down there and that's why we're training hard and preparing well, and we hope that we can go there and get a good result at Bournemouth.

On taking on Bournemouth's attack and Dominic Solanke in particular...

I'm ready to come up against any attacker in the world if necessary in order to defend this Liverpool team. It doesn't really matter who we're up against, but for sure they've got some very good forwards. It's true that we have seen Solanke having a really good spell, particularly in the last month, where he's scored six goals, if I remember rightly. He's in a really good vein of form and he will be high on confidence. And so it's now down to us, the whole team and me also as a defender, to make sure we put an end to that good run of form on behalf of our team.

On the team's aim being to keep up momentum in the Premier League...

Like I was saying before, the first half of the season has gone reasonably well. Even if we have dropped one or two points here and there, which is a bit of a shame because when you reflect back at the end of the season, that's when you'll realise about those points here and there, but I hope that won't cost us dearly. Now with the second half of the season ahead of us, that's the vital part, and I hope that we can keep going right to the end and that we can end the season by finishing top of this league.



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