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10th Jan, 2017 | 10:41am

Three key battles for Liverpool v Southampton: Pacy forward could cause veteran problems

COMMENT By Emma Sanders

Ahead of Liverpool’s EFL Cup semi-final clash against Southampton on Wednesday evening, Football Insider takes a look at three key battles which could have an impact on the result.

Virgil Van Dijk v Roberto Firmino

With Jose Fonte set to remain on the sidelines, Southampton will need Van Dijk to perform to his usually high standards. The last time these two teams met, he was excellent in defence and he kept out Liverpool’s attacking flair. He could do the same again and without Sadio Mane, the responsibility will lay largely on the shoulders of Firmino to provide the Reds’ spark. He will need to be creative and agile against Van Dijk.

Fraser Forster v Daniel Sturridge

With Mane absent and Philippe Coutinho unlikely to start, Sturridge should get the nod up front and he will need to prove he is Liverpool’s number one goalscorer as Divock Origi has impressed in his absence. Southampton will provide a huge test and they have a defensively solid set-up so Sturridge may only get a few opportunities to make his mark. Forster is an excellent goalkeeper and will do his best to keep out the striker so Sturridge needs to make sure his shooting boots are in top shape.

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Shane Long v Ragnar Klavan

The pacey forward is unlikely to start but he could make an impact as a substitute. In the last encounter, Long came on and made an immediate impact by stretching the Liverpool defence with his runs in behind and out wide. Klavan has done well standing in for Joel Matip but the veteran 31-year-old is not the quickest defender and he won’t like to be tested in a one-on-one situation so it’s crucial Liverpool don’t allow those situations to arise if Long is on the pitch.

In other Liverpool news, Jurgen Klopp has delivered an update on this star duo.