Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is facing the prospect of being without two of his successful midfield trio for Monday’s visit of Manchester United.
With Adam Lallana still recovering from a groin injury sustained at Swansea in their last match before the international break, Georginio Wijnaldum limped off with a hamstring problem in the second half of the Netherlands’ World Cup qualifying defeat to France.
The pair have started every Premier League match alongside Jordan Henderson this season and have been a key part of the Reds’ rise to fourth, just two points behind leaders Manchester City.
A longer period of recovery gives Lallana the best chance of making the United match but Wijnaldum will be assessed on his return to the club’s Melwood training ground to discover the extent of his problem. Klopp does have Germany international Emre Can waiting in the wings to make his first league start of the campaign after injury in August’s EFL Cup trip to Burton set him back.
Monday will be Jose Mourinho’s first meeting with Liverpool as Manchester United manager and he will be looking to extend a run which has seen the Old Trafford club win the last four league matches.
Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge said the Portuguese’s move to Old Trafford in the summer has made him even more unpopular with Reds fans.
“The fact that Jose Mourinho is Manchester United manager adds extra spice to a fierce rivalry. It also means that beating them would be even sweeter,” he wrote in the Liverpool Echo.
“Liverpool fans didn’t mind Louis van Gaal. They didn’t really have a problem with David Moyes but they can’t stand Mourinho, especially after the way he conducted himself in the games against us with Chelsea.
“He’s guaranteed a hostile reception and I think Mourinho’s tactics will be exactly the same as when he brought Chelsea to Anfield in April 2014 (the day Liverpool’s title bid foundered with a 2-0 defeat).
“Mourinho is a defensive manager and he will park the bus and then try to feed off our mistakes by hitting us on the break.”
Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford has no doubt the increased level of physicality he has experienced since breaking into the United first team has helped his development by making him “toughen up”.
The 18-year-old England forward made his senior debut for United in February and has scored 12 goals in 27 appearances for them so far.
Asked if he now receives more kicks, Rashford said: “A little bit but you don’t go through a game of football without having a knock. I don’t think I have done that for years!
“It does toughen you up.
“When you get the first knock it kind of wakes you up, you know they are men and it is not like U18s when you can take loads of knocks and know you will be fine, that you won’t feel anything after the game.
“You definitely get harder knocks but it helps.
“You just get up and get on with the game, and then you can give it to them back.”
Paul Pogba feels more comfortable in an attacking midfield role but is willing to work on the defensive side of his game in order to adapt to Mourinho’s tactics at United.
Pogba has been utilised in a deeper role by Mourinho and is yet to produce his best form at Old Trafford.
“I try to adapt. I am a player who would rather go forward. The coach gave me instructions, I try to follow them,” Pogba said.
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