Liverpool's pre-season tour may have come to a close as of last weekend, but that doesn't mean preparations for their season debut have also ended. On the contrary, a brief stop on Merseyside to hug the family and pet the pugs is but a brief respite before the club jet off to Finland to face HJK Helsinki in the club's final international friendly of the summer.
"Your last pre-season game is always the biggest one," said Danny Ings, who obviously isn't worrying too much about participating in the club's much more low-key friendly against Swindon Town the following day. "You want all of your squad fit and you want to give everyone game time leading into the season. The lads will be raring to go for the season so it's important with this game that everybody's fit, everybody's firing, and looking forward to starting the season, which I'm sure we will be."
Fitness, fitness, fitness is the regular refrain from players and manager alike during pre-season, though Liverpool at this point Brendan Rodgers will likely be hoping to see positives beyond whether or not his players have the legs to stay on the pitch for ninety minutes. Evidence of tactics beginning to gel and more than a few goals against their Finnish opposition would go a long way towards setting the scene for a nice kick-off to the new season.
"It's nice to get wins and play well in the games but it's getting that base fitness," continued James Milner. "But as you get toward the start of the season it's about that match intensity and getting results and building the confidence. So that last game before the first game of the season is it's always important to get not only a win but [also] put in a good performance and get that confidence up."
It's a new era at Liverpool Football Club and one that's important to get off on the right (or left) foot. Whether a decisive win over HJK will help the team get into the right frame of mind is still to be determined, but whatever helps their mental game in what is surely one of the worst fixtures in the calendar will be critical when Liverpool face Stoke on August 9.
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