By Noel Whelan

2nd Aug, 2022 | 5:00pm

Liverpool superstar to be frozen out after Diogo Jota news - pundit

Noel Whelan has backed Diogo Jota to lead the line for Liverpool if Jurgen Klopp chooses to bed Darwin Nunez in gently.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed Roberto Firmino will be firmly behind the 25-year-old Portugal international when he regains full fitness.

Firmino, 30, started the Community Shield win over Man City on Saturday (30 July) but was subbed off for Nunez on 59 minutes – with the Uruguayan wrapping up the victory with a goal to make it 3-1.

According to the Daily Mail’s Dominic King (1 August), Jota will be back in training in “two weeks” as he completes his recovery from a hamstring injury.

He also claims talks over a long-term contract for the forward have been “progressing for some time” – despite his current deal running for three more years.

The former Wolves man notched 21 goals and eight assists in 55 outings for the Merseysiders last season.

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Meanwhile, Firmino – who is into the final year of his Liverpool contract – managed just 11 strikes across all competitions.

Whelan hailed Jota for his form during last season’s African Cup of Nations.

He told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury: “I wouldn’t want to be Jurgen Klopp, trying to make these decisions with three quality players like that.

“But when you’re looking at Jota’s form and the record he had last season, I think he’s the go-to.

“He was the one they turned to during the AFCON – he really stepped up and took that burden on his shoulders. It was really impressive.

“For me, I don’t think you can look past Jota if Nunez isn’t quite ready to come in for whatever reason.”

In other news, pundit issues emphatic Andy Robertson verdict after Liverpool teammate’s “100%” reveal.