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Thursday 19 January 2017

'Karius can be a Liverpool great' - insists James

Loris Karius
Loris Karius
Former Liverpool goalkeeper David James

Former Liverpool goalkeeper David James has backed Loris Karius to come good at Anfield ahead of the German's likely restoration to the starting line-up for Sunday's FA Cup clash with Plymouth.

The 23-year-old has not featured since being dropped by boss Jurgen Klopp for last month's trip to Middlesbrough after making costly blunders against Bournemouth and West Ham.

Klopp defended Karius from criticism chiefly from the Neville brothers, and James, who experienced a similarly rocky start to his Liverpool career in 1992, believes having such an experienced manager will help the keeper's cause.

James said: "I like Karius - I looked at him last season before Liverpool signed him. He's got a tremendous amount of growth in him and rather than a bad goalie who could be good, I see him as a good goalie who could be great.

"Of course there is an element of pressure on him but Karius has to learn that that is just part of the environment - all eyes are on you because goalkeepers have always been such a great part of the Liverpool tradition."

Like Karius, James found himself replaced in the starting line-up by veteran Bruce Grobbelaar after a turbulent start to his Anfield career, before going on to establish himself and play 277 games for the club.

He added: "I can empathise with Karius because I have been in a similar position, but he has also got a very vocal and honest manager, which I never had, so he knows exactly where he stands and what he has to do in order not to fail."

Karius's replacement Simon Mignolet has also come in for some criticism this season but James believes his recent record since coming back into the side underscores that the goalkeeping situation at Anfield is not as bad as many critics make out.

"I don't think it's as bad as people say," added James. "If you look at the last four games since Mignolet came back, he's kept three clean sheets and two of the three goals he's conceded have been penalties.

"My concern prior to Mignolet coming back in was that both goalkeepers were making similar kinds of mistakes, and that makes you wonder if it is something they are picking up on the training field.

"But those mistakes seem to have stopped and Liverpool now have two top-drawer goalkeepers. That is a much better situation than having one great goalkeeper and one who doesn't feel like he wants to be there. So many clubs don't have that back-up, so Liverpool are in a privileged position in that respect."

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