Liverpool’s pre-season kicked off with a 1-0 win at Tranmere – and manager Jurgen Klopp is backing matchwinner Danny Ings to score plenty of goals for the club this season.
Ings scored the only goal in a friendly which was not much more than a glorified open training session as more significant matters were decided behind the scenes.
There was little to read into matters on the field, however.
The 23-man squad on display at Prenton Park had no room for Mario Balotelli, whom the club are trying to offload, Jordon Ibe, who is set to complete a £15million move to Bournemouth in the next week, and Luis Alberto, a target for former club Sevilla.
Also absent for Liverpool were all their internationals who were involved in Euro 2016 and the Copa America but Klopp was able to field Sadio Mane, a £30million recruit from Southampton, and fellow new signings Joel Matip and goalkeeper Loris Karius.
The latter two will take some time to adapt to their new surroundings in the Reds’ backline and Tranmere’s Connor Jennings’ 24th-minute header from a corner hit the far post.
Mane was involved in Liverpool’s two best chances of the half – a diagonal driving run from halfway, something seen a lot at St Mary’s, set up Ryan Kent who shot too close to Scott Davies, who later saved well from the Senegal international.
Eleven changes were made for the second half with striker Ings forcing a save out of substitute goalkeeper Iain Turner and Lazar Markovic, who has much to prove after a season on loan at Fenerbahce, hammering the rebound against a post with the goal gaping.
Ings looked lively with a header over and overhead kick wide before finally beating Turner with a fierce drive after a good run by 17-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Speaking about Ings after the match, Klopp said: “With his quality he will score goals for us in the future.
“After the year he has had, he should not put too much pressure on himself to get back so quickly,” he added, with the player having spent almost the entire time Klopp has been at the club sidelined after cruciate knee ligament surgery.
“He needs to get fit and after a long-term injury that takes time.
“You need to get a long-term period to get yourself 100 per cent but it was cool to see him score.
“It was a nice goal and he could have had one more. He will be really happy.
“Now I know that we have a long way to go and we have to work really hard.”