Jurgen Klopp has told Curtis Jones exactly what he has to do to stay in the Liverpool team ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Porto.
Klopp’s side sit atop of Group B after one game having beaten AC Milan, while the Portuguese drew with Atletico Madrid.
Jones has been included in the 23-man travelling party, with the only senior players to miss out Thiago and Harvey Elliott.
Klopp has confirmed there were no new injuries after Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Brentford.
“A big squad will travel. 23 are with us and apart from the longer term injuries, they are all in. No Thiago, Harvey and the rest available. No new concerns at the moment,” said Klopp.
Jones, 20, has just surpassed 50 games for Liverpool and started in the entertaining draw with Brentford. But that was his first Premier League start of the season.
The academy graduate played 34 times last season as he established himself under Klopp. This time around though, even with Gini Wijnaldum gone, Jones has struggled to get into Klopp’s midfield line-up.
The England Under-21 star got a 15-minute cameo against Crystal Palace, but has found himself on the bench at best in the other games.
He did also get a start in the EFL Cup win at Norwich and Klopp was asked what the youngster has to do to get into the side.
Klopp told a press conference: “The last game was a good example, that’s how Curtis has to play. That consistent. Defensively he was really good and won important balls and offensively he was pretty much involved in everything and scored a wonderful goal.
“He can score exactly the same goal with his left foot, which makes him pretty special. Play like this and better and everything is fine.
“In midfield it’s a rare moment they’re all fit and I have to make decisions. Then it’s about the players, with a three or a four. You can only do that in training sessions and there is no criticism.
“Even when you are good in training you have to be especially good to be in one of the three in the line-up. I am completely open and never start the week knowing exactly what we are going to do.
“The few sessions we have I watch in detail and then it’s about the players. That’s what Curtis has to do. Sometimes I may make a decision against him, in favour of another player and that is it. Put performances like the last one help for sure.”
Klopp wants a reaction
The Reds boss admitted his side were not at the best defensively as they shipped in three goals to the newly-promoted Bees. He does though want a “reaction” against Porto.
“It’s not that much of a concern, but we have to show a reaction,” said Klopp. “It’s tricky to win a game when you aren’t defending on your highest level and that’s what we didn’t do. It wasn’t just the last line, in general we had problem with defending.
“We don’t count on points we don’t have already, it’s a tough group so we should not waste time to get points. Atletico v Porto was a tough one and if someone deserved to win it, it was Porto, so that says a lot. The team we face tomorrow.”
“Last time we came back we didn’t think about the 5-0 before it because it makes no sense. We are here often enough to know we can not win a game before we play so that is it.”