Jurgen Klopp justified a decision he admitted Mohamed Salah hates, and revealed a key attacker is a doubt for the FA Cup semi-final clash with Man City.
The games are coming thick and fast for the Reds right now as the season reaches the business end. Liverpool remain just one point behind rivals Man City in the Premier League following their pulsating 2-2 draw on Sunday.
Klopp’s side set up a Champions League semi-final date with Villarreal last night when keeping Benfica at bay. A 3-3 draw was enough after bringing a 3-1 advantage into the second leg.
Another semi-final awaits this weekend when Liverpool reignite their rivalry with Man City.
The pair will square off in the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday with Liverpool’s quadruple hopes and City’s treble chances hanging in the balance.
However, speaking in his Thursday press conference, Klopp admitted his side could be deprived of Diogo Jota against City.
Jota has been sensational since arriving from Wolves last season and has risen to become the first-choice centre-forward most weeks.
However, the Portuguese marksman suffered a knock against Benfica and Klopp revealed his availability won’t be known until a final check on Friday.
The German said: “It’s Diogo: there’s a good chance he will be all right but we need to have a look tomorrow. That’s it.”
Roberto Firmino could deputise in the central position if Jota is ruled out. Alternatively, Luis Diaz could return to the eleven on the left with Sadio Mane moving in field.
Salah must accept time on the bench – Klopp
Regardless, one player who is certain to start is Mohamed Salah after being given a rare rest on Wednesday.
The Egyptian has been Liverpool’s best players this season and benching such a potent threat always raises eyebrows at such a crucial point in the season.
Salah started the match against Benfica on the bench before coming on for the final half hour. Klopp admitted the 29-year-old “hates” when he’s not involved from first whistle, though explained why it’s something he’ll have to accept.
“Even if Mo would have scored four goals in the last game, he wouldn’t have started (v Benfica),” added Klopp (via the Liverpool Echo).
“There’s no story, just a necessity. Even he is just a human being and there’ll be games where he can’t start or is taken off and he hates that – that’s clear!
“Some of the defending was a bit flat-footed and were waiting for offside. But in general, the intensity of the game (v Benfica) showed it was right to make seven changes.”