Daniel Sturridge could be ready to return to the Liverpool starting line-up for Sunday’s game against Aston Villa.
Sturridge, 26, returned from injury to play over an hour of Liverpool’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat at West Ham on Tuesday.
Although Liverpool manager,Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Sturridge came through the match unharmed, he refused to confirm whether the England international would start at Villa Park this weekend.
According to Klopp, Sturridge played for about 70 minutes and that he had had a normal recovery.
“We need to think about how he can manage minutes but he made a big step in the last week and I’ve made no final decisions about line-up. Until now, everything is like it should be.”
Tuesday’s defeat at Upton Park was the Reds’ fifth game in a row without victory. However, one positive for Liverpool supporters was the appearance of midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who scored on his return from a hamstring injury.
The 23 year-old, who was named as Liverpool’s Player of the Year last season, played just under an hour, while striker Divock Origi also made a substitute appearance after recovering from a knee problem.
“Having Coutinho and Origi back is very important,” said Klopp.
“If you are interested in us then you see the situation in the squad is difficult in that a few players have had maybe too many games and others come back not in the best shape and need to come in.”
“We have to manage their minutes. Especially Phil, because he played a little bit less. He trained normally and all are in a good way, which is good news.
Under-fire striker Christian Benteke once again failed to find the net against Slaven Bilic’s side and has now gone 68 minutes without scoring.
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The 25 year-old, who cost Liverpool £32.5m last summer, returns to Villa Park for the first time this weekend. However, Klopp refused to say if Benteke was likely to start against his former club.
“I saw really good signs at West Ham in Benteke,” said Klopp, who backed his striker to return to form.
“This isn’t easiest period of his career. Getting the number of opportunities is a good sign, but it’s not too easy. It’s all in the public eye so you cannot hide yourself.
“I’ve talked to him of course and given him some advice as a human being and as a coach, and he is really trying to come back in the easy moment. He is a striker and he wants to score goals for a longer period. We have to carry on and so does he.
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“I don’t have the best experiences with players going back to former clubs. They usually show more pressure, wanting to show extra. I don’t know too much about his history there, whether they will welcome him with open arms or whistles. But it won’t affect my decisions.
“It’s up to the situation you are in as a person. And, as I said, there are no final decisions for the line-up. It’s about working and we will see, but it won’t be because personal histories with former clubs.”
Villa ended a run of three games without a victory by beating Norwich 2-0 last weekend but the club still remains four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League table.
Villa defeated relegation rivals Norwich 2-0 last Saturday
“You can say they have nothing to lose anymore, but there is another possible way to see it; that of course it is no coincidence they are where they are,” Klopp said.
“You have to avoid a few things and use a few things, that’s how you prepare a game. It’s not for us to think about their target for the game, we have to think about our own target. The Premier League is always difficult so you don’t have to think about this.”