Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius heads into probably the biggest match of his career confident in his position as Jurgen Klopp’s new first choice.
The German has taken over from long-time number one Simon Mignolet for the last three games but the visit of Manchester United on Monday represents the former Mainz player’s biggest challenge to date.
Despite the often precarious nature of being a goalkeeper, when one mistake can lose you your place, the 23-year-old insists there is no ill-will between him and Mignolet, who in three unchallenged years in the team failed to properly establish himself beyond doubt.
“It’s not about being best friends but we get on well,” he said of the Belgian.
“On the pitch we know we are rivals but that doesn’t mean you wish anything bad on the other.
“It’s very professional and all in all we are a good group. We try to help each other if there is something we can do for the other one.
“You prepare for the game any way so it doesn’t really make a difference if you know a month before, a week before, a day before, because it won’t really change anything in your training.”
Karius has played against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in his homeland but with Mainz’s standing as a relatively small club in Germany the Premier League clash of England’s two most successful clubs is on another level entirely.
When asked if it would be the most significant outing of his career he said: “Probably. With all the history of both clubs, the rivalry, it’s a very big match.
“It’s always hard to say which is the biggest but it’s a really big match.
“Manchester United has a good, strong team but we have a great team and we play at home.
“We have respect for them but we’re not scared of them and we know we want to win the game.
“We’ll have a good plan – or more than one plan – so we will be well prepared.”
Mignolet on battle for Liverpool No 1
Mignolet has also given his thoughts on his rivalry with Karius and admits sitting on the Reds bench is not something he’s prepared to settle for.
“Every time you sit on the bench it hurts,” he told reporters.
“I’m also a lot more nervous on the bench than on the pitch. But the intention is to play again as soon as possible.
“The important thing is that I try to handle to situation the best I can. I think my response has been positive. It was also appreciated by the supporters.
“I look at the positives and expect and hope to play against Manchester United.
“I can take confidence from my good start in the league. At Arsenal, Tottenham and against Leicester, I was important to the team with some good saves.
“I don’t know what the coach will decide. I can just make sure I’m ready 100 per cent. Whether I play or not, nothing will change my preparation. It is not in my character to not give 100 per cent.”