Noel Whelan has leaped to the defence of Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino ahead of today’s FA Cup clash against Manchester United.

The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, heaped praise on the “very intelligent” 29-year-old who is the “unsung hero” of Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Firmino has come under fire for his performances in recent weeks and was dropped from the starting eleven that lost at home to Burnley in midweek.

The Reds have failed to score in the Premier League for over seven hours now as all three of Liverpool’s forwards experience a rare barren run in front of goal.

Sky Sports pundit and Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher is very concerned over Firmino’s form in particular and suggested that he may need to be replaced in the summer.

When asked by Football Insider for his assessment of Firmino’s form ahead of today’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Old Trafford, Whelan said:

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“Firmino for me is one of these players who does not get enough credit, he is the unsung hero of that team.

“Everybody else gets the accolades. Mane or your Salah get praise a lot but all of their goals are created by a good piece of work by Firmino or a run that creates space for these players.

“He is very clever and very intelligent in that way.”

Speaking on Monday Night Football, Carragher said: “He’s the one I’m worried about, whether it be a lack of form or maybe just that slow decline as you get a little bit older.

“It’s almost unprecedented, what Liverpool have done with their front three, how long they have been together and how often they play, and sooner or later that front three will have to be broken up.”

In other news, Liverpool have been tipped to swoop for a West Ham star after a big development.