Jurgen Klopp says he now understands the hype around Daniel Sturridge after the striker starred on his return from injury at Southampton.
Sturridge scored twice as Liverpool thrashed the Saints 6-1 to progress to the semi-finals of the League Cup, where they will face Stoke City.
The England international has hardly played over the last 18 months due to numerous injuries, causing Klopp to question the 26-year-old’s mentality, but he has now been given a glimpse of the quality which saw the former Chelsea forward almost help the Reds to the title with 24 goals in 2013/14.
“I said to Sturridge after the game ‘now I know what everybody is talking about so thank you’,” the German said.
“Of course I knew all about his quality, this was not a problem, but I had not seen it live in a stadium in such an important game.
“How do I know if he can be better than a couple of seasons ago? I don’t know. You have known him longer than me.
“The problem with Daniel was we didn’t know how long he could play. He did not have the perfect pre-season. It was a good decision [to select him], I have to say.”
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In progressing to the semi-finals against Stoke City, Liverpool avoided the potentially more difficult draws against Everton or Manchester City, but Klopp pointed to his team’s recent 4-1 win at City as proof they need not be concerned about facing them, and insisted that Stoke remain a significant challenge.
“I have absolutely no problems with a match against Everton,” he said. “As you could see we have no problem with matches against Manchester City, but we got Stoke.
“I’ve had a few finals in my life and I know there was never an easy one. Stoke will want this final, for sure.”