Jurgen Klopp admitted he was taken aback by Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones when he was just 15, and provided a mixed update on the injury front including the return of a long-term absentee.
Liverpool’s spirits are sky high after reaching the final of the EFL Cup on Thursday night. The Reds swept Arsenal aside on their own turf, teeing up a tantalising clash with Chelsea on February 27.
Reacting to the news in his Friday press conference (via the Liverpool Echo), Klopp said: “We were desperate to go there. There were a lot of happy faces in the stadium and dressing room – the music was really loud.
“[The Final] will be absolutely great. The stadium will be in red and blue which is good. It will be a really exciting game with two football trams facing each other in the final.”
Liverpool’s victory was in large part due to Diogo Jota. In the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, the responsibility has fallen on the Portuguese and Roberto Firmino in the final third.
Jota bagged both goals, and Klopp hailed Jota’s fundamentals as the reason why he is able to score the type of spectacular goal he plundered for his second.
Jota fundamentals allows him to perform miracles – Klopp
“If you don’t have the basics no-one can perform miracles,” said Klopp. “Yesterday he had to do an awful lot to make it happen.
“I’m really happy for him. If you have this quality, then it’s really nice that he showed it last night.”
On back-up goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher – who again looked the part on the big stage against Arsenal – Klopp confirmed he is now the undisputed No2 to Alisson Becker.
“He is the number two at Liverpool and you can’t get much higher at his age,” added Klopp.
“He is top class, calm, with belief, good on ball, and on top of that makes incredible saves. And what is better for a young goalie than to learn from the best in the world.”
Another star who is thriving at Anfield is Curtis Jones. The Liverpool-born midfielder is improving week after week, though Klopp admitted he knew Jones would be special from the moment he joined in 2015.
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Klopp said: “Look, you win a football game, a difficult one. You can only win it if all the players are good but Curtis was really good in the last two games. I’m one of his biggest fans to be honest.
“I saw him out my office when I first joined and thought ‘Wow, how old is he?’. He was 15. We couldn’t have won the game last night without good individual performances and Curtis was one of them.”
Mixed news on injury front
Liverpool’s attention will quickly revert back to the Premier League. The Reds take on Crystal Palace on Sunday as they strive to keep within touching distance of Manchester City.
On the injury front, Klopp confirmed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could feature against the Eagles. Furthermore, he stated Harvey Elliot could return to action after the upcoming international break. Elliot had taken his chance with both hands earlier this season before suffering a gruesome ankle dislocation that required surgery in September.
“It’s outstanding to have him back,” Klopp said of Elliot. “He’s an outstanding boy. He was out for a long time so we cannot rush it, but he looked directly like he could play!
“I’m pretty sure after the international break he should be ready.”
However, the news not seemingly not all positive. Joel Matip was substituted at half-time against the Gunners, and Klopp suggested they had an inkling something was not right with the centre-half.
“We thought something was not completely 100% right,” added the German, “We had Ibou [Konate] and Gomez on the bench so we made the change.”