By Matt Farr
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hinted that Divock Origi was axed from the starting eleven against Middlesbrough due to an injury problem.
The 22-year-old was dropped to the bench for Liverpool’s final Premier League game of the 2016-17 season, and was replaced in the line-up by Roberto Firmino, who had been declared fit after a minor injury.
However, Klopp told Sky Sports 1’s live coverage ahead of the game that Origi had ‘felt something’ in his calf during training two days ago, suggesting that the Belgian may not have been in peak condition to start.
He also revealed that it was an ‘easy decision’ to bring back Firmino in his place, given the attacker has been in stunning form the club this season.
He said: “There were two problems actually. Divock finished training early two days’ ago, and said ‘I feel a little bit here,’ in the calf actually. So we said, ‘ok, stop’.
“We made a final test before the game. Roberto came back yesterday, trained completely normal, looked well-rested. Obviously no issues anymore. So it was an easy decision to make.”
But Klopp’s injury revelation is not likely to unsettle fans, firstly because there will be no further games to play this season, and secondly because Origi could still have a role to play off the bench.
Origi has been a regular figure in Klopp’s starting eleven in recent weeks, having started each of their last seven league outings.
But prior to his recent importance, Origi had found regular opportunities in the starting eleven few and far between, earning only a further seven stars throughout the remainder of the league campaign.
He has scored 11 goals and contributed four assists from his 42 appearances in all competitions, including a goal during the 4-0 win over West Ham a week ago.
However, the return of Firmino will be key for Liverpool against Middlesbrough, as a win could seal a top four finish and a place in the Champions League qualification stages next season.
In other Liverpool news, the Reds have reportedly made an approach to sign this Monaco sensation.