Despite reports that Adam Lallana wouldn’t be ready to face Southampton on Saturday, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp says it isn’t so certain the ex-Saints man will miss out against his former team. Still, it seems clear that with the return of club football so near, time is not on Lallana’s side in this case.
“He’s at 95% which is really good news, but nobody comes off the pitch if they don’t feel anything,” Klopp told reporters at his pre-match press conference. “I spoke with him already and it will be really close with the time until Southampton so short. Hopefully it’s not so serious, but we’ll have to wait.”
Given that uncertainty, the safe bet would seem to be on Lallana being given the weekend off to ensure that what appears to be a fairly minor strain doesn’t turn into something more. But whether he’s given that chance could have a lot to do with the status of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool’s two Brazilians returned to England Wednesday evening, as Liverpool joined Chelsea and Manchester City in chartering a private jet that left Peru immediately following their World Cup qualifying match late on Tuesday night rather than relying on commercial flights.
Had they flown back on a scheduled commercial flight, their earliest return would have involved waiting until Wednesday morning to catch a flight to the United States and connecting to a London-bound flight Wednesday evening, arriving back in England on Thursday morning.
Getting back a day earlier, then, means both should at least be in contention for Saturday—and certainly Firmino, whose minutes with Brazil were limited, will be expected to start. If he and Coutinho are both ready, then, a simple swap that sees Georginio Wijnaldum start in place of Lallana seems likeliest.
However, if Coutinho isn’t able to start, it would necessitate two changed starters against Southampton and a likely formation shift that would give one of Daniel Sturridge or Divock Origi the chance to get back into the starting eleven.