PREVIEW By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
There are likely to be two disappointed Liverpool attacking players when Jurgen Klopp announces his starting X1 for Thursday’s showdown against Borussia Dortmund.
If, as expected Klopp persists with a midfield three to combat the intensity and energy of the German opponents he knows so well, it is a toss-up between four players for two other positions.
Striker pair Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge are vying to lead the attack, while attacking midfield pair Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino are in contention for the final slot.
The Europa League quarter-final tie is superbly poised at 1-1 after the Merseysiders secured a precious away goal in the first leg in Germany last Thursday.
Assessing his growing options in the wake of Sunday’s emphatic 4-1 win over Stoke, Klopp paid tribute to Sturridge’s work rate and also claimed Philippe Coutinho and Lallana, substitutes at the weekend, were both in “brilliant shape”.
Origi led the line superbly in Germany, scoring the crucial away goal, and followed up with two goals in a brilliant cameo display against Stoke.
His greater physical attributes could see him get the nod over Sturridge once again, although the latter was close to being back to his best at the weekend.
With Young Player of the Year candidate Coutinho regarded as the team’s outstanding player, Klopp is then likely to choose between Lallana and fit-again Robert Firmino.
The in-form Englishman is the narrow favourite to be selected, Firmino started his first game in nearly a month at the weekend but was not at his sharpest and could be overlooked despite his excellent form since the turn of the year.
Barring any late injuries, the goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, back four of Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Alberto Moreno, and midfielder Emre Can, are virtually certain starters.
In a clear hint that manager Klopp is planning to start Allen against Dortmund, he was withdrawn after 78 minutes of Sunday’s clash. “We only took him off because we need him,” explained the manager.
Fit-again duo Lucas Leiva and Kevin Stewart will also come into contention but Allen’s energy, tactical nous and tidy distribution is likely to mean him getting the nod. The versatile James Milner is likely to be the third member of the midfield trio.
Liverpool (possible): Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Can, Allen, Milner; Lallana, Coutinho, Origi.
In other Liverpool news, a Bundesliga expert has said Dortmund fear one man ahead of the second leg.