By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Jurgen Klopp has hinted that Joe Allen, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana will start Liverpool’s Europa League showdown against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday.
Allen was hailed by the Merseysiders’ manager for producing a “brilliant” display in Sunday’s 4-1 win over Stoke and that he was only withdrawn to keep him fresh for the quarter-final second leg against Dortmund.
Assessing his growing options afterwards, Klopp also claimed Coutinho and Lallana, who were substitutes at the weekend, were both in “brilliant shape”.
The Liverpool manager is faced with a series of selection dilemmas in midfield and attack for a tie that is superbly poised at 1-1 after the first leg in Germany last Thursday.
Barring any 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.
Further upfield, there is growing competition for places, with perhaps only Coutinho, the team’s outstanding player, and Klopp favourite James Milner confident of starting the second leg.
That leaves the second central midfield berth and two attacking positions, one on the flanks and one to lead the attack, up for grabs.
It is unlikely the manager will go all-out attack against such a high calibre team, which means a straight shoot-out up front between Daniel Sturridge, scorer of the second against Stoke, and in-form Divock Origi, who has three in two matches.
Klopp is then likely to choose between Lallana and fit-again Robert Firmino, with the Englishman the narrow favourite to be selected.
“When I came here we always spoke about players who are not available,” Klopp said after the win over Stoke, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo. “Now we have more players to think about changing the line-up, the system, changing everything.
“We played without Coutinho, who is in brilliant shape, we played without Lallana, who is in brilliant shape.”
In a clear hint that manager Klopp is planning to start Allen against Dortmund, he was withdrawn after 78 minutes of Sunday’s clash with Liverpool 4-1 up.
“He was brilliant,” said Klopp afterwards, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo. “There is no other word for this. We only took him off because we need him.
“Joe is not 100 percent fit, but it is not possible because he couldn’t train often enough. He was always on the bench because we have needed him.
“He’s a really good player. Now, hopefully he stays healthy forever and now he’s a really good option.”
In other Liverpool news, a Bundesliga expert has said Dortmund fear one man ahead of the second leg.