Liverpool may have been handed a major fitness boost with the likes of club captain Jordan Henderson and star striker Daniel Sturridge set to return to the squad ahead of the meeting with Manchester City at the weekend, but there’ll be one glaring hole in the starting eleven with Mamadou Sakho sidelined for up to two months with a knock. That, of course, almost certainly means a recall to the starting eleven for Dejan Lovren — a prospect that has left more than a few supporters with a serious case of the nerves.
“Last year I had a tough year,” conceded the Croatian defender. “I didn’t do pre-season with the team and everything was such a rush. Everyone, all together, has started better than last year. It was important for me that I had a good pre-season with the team and I’m feeling more comfortable now,” he explained. “I know the expectations, I know a little bit more about the club and the feelings of the fans. When you do a pre-season outside the UK, you see what a great club and a big club it is. I’m proud to be here,” said Lovren, before adding, “Now my thing is to be here for as long as possible and to win something with the club.”
Admittedly, the former Southampton defender is right; besides a gigantic brain-fart against West Ham United earlier in the season, he’s been quite a bit steadier than his reputation would suggest. That being said, he hasn’t started a Premier League match since the middle of September, featuring mostly in the League Cup and the Europa League. Constantly on the fringes under former boss Brendan Rodgers, Sakho has flourished under the tutelage of Klopp, quickly establishing himself as Liverpool’s most important defender — a feat that the German manager will hopefully be able to repeat with Lovren.
“Mama had a really good couple of games and a good start to the season,” he said of the injured French defender. “We played in Rubin Kazan together and were feeling really good. But you never know in football – injuries can happen today or tomorrow. So you need to be prepared,” mused the 26-year old, waxing philosophical before assuring the Reds faithful that he wasn’t resting on his laurels during his time on the sidelines . “I was working hard all the time so I’m ready and looking forward to playing.”