By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Jurgen Klopp said the only word to describe Joe Allen’s midfield masterclass against Stoke was “brilliant”.
The pint-sized Wales international helped Liverpool dominate the central acres in their 4-1 Premier League win against the Potters at Anfield on Sunday.
With first-choice central midfield pair Jordan Henderson and Emre Can unavailable, Allen got the nod to start the clash for a rejigged home side alongside fit-again youngster Kevin Stewart.
Aided by the versatile James Milner helping to form a midfield three, the home side comfortably won the battle in the centre of the pitch against Mark Hughes’ team.
Allen, who had been a half-time replacement for Henderson in the midweek 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund, caught the eye with his energy, tackling and tidy distribution.
In a clear hint that manager Klopp is planning to start the 27-year-old in next Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against Dortmund, he was withdrawn after 78 minutes of Sunday’s clash with Liverpool 4-1 up.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.”
Goals from Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno, and a Divock Origi double, saw off Stoke as the Reds warmed up for the crucial clash with Dortmund.
Thomas Tuchel’s side warmed up for the showdown with a 2-2 draw away to rivals Schalke, with the manager making eight changes to the team that secured a 1-1 draw in the Westfalenstadion.
In other Liverpool news, a Bundesliga expert has said Dortmund fear one man ahead of the second leg.