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Friday 9 December 2016

Liverpool's confidence 'like a small flower'

Klopp warns of pitfalls ahead of Magpies clash

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Jurgen Klopp will once again avail of striker Daniel Sturridge for tomorrow’s clash with Newcastle

Confidence is blooming at Liverpool under new manager Jurgen Klopp but the German knows the precious commodity, "like a small flower", could be destroyed if his side allow complacency to slip in ahead of tomorrow's visit to Newcastle United.

After seven wins in their last eight matches in all competitions, including a 6-1 mauling of Southampton in the League Cup on Wednesday, Klopp is riding a wave of enthusiasm and renewed belief at Anfield.

Liverpool, whose struggle for goals had become seemingly endemic at the tail-end of Brendan Rodgers's reign, have found the net 14 times in their last four away matches.

On paper, a trip to St James' Park to play a Newcastle side who are second from bottom and have conceded eight times in their two most recent defeats, should pose Liverpool few problems.

Klopp was not seeking to play down the fact that the omens seem to be in their favour but the German knows lapses in concentration, as Liverpool showed in conceding early to Chelsea and Southampton in recent wins, could cost his side dear.

"I have never had a problem with too much confidence," he said. "We expect to win the game. We always do, but it doesn't work all the time. But we have the same thinking. It doesn't mean we don't have respect (for Newcastle)...

"Confidence is like a small flower. If you have it, somebody can kick it in the game and you don't have it. And if you don't have it, you can get it back easily.

"We have to be concentrated from the first second. If you travel to Newcastle, you have to get as many points as you can. We have to be prepared."

The German, whose side are sixth in the Premier League and six points off top, has had to battle with a series of injuries and a depleted squad since taking over at the start of October.

He has welcomed back high-profile absentees in recent weeks including injury-blighted striker Daniel Sturridge and captain Jordan Henderson. Both will be in contention to start against Newcastle. Sturridge's two goals in the thrashing of Southampton gave his manager a taste of his finishing prowess and, more importantly for Klopp, the England frontman came through the encounter without suffering any major ill-effects.

"Obviously he did well in the last game. The plan before the game was to give him 55-60 minutes. Good for him and good for us," Klopp said.

"Of course, he felt each muscle after the game. That's normal. But in this moment he is available for the weekend. We have to see how we do this."

Klopp admits he was too optimistic about Philippe Coutinho's injury and he may not yet be ready to return.

He was expected to make his comeback against Newcastle but his recovery is taking longer than expected.

"I like optimism, really, but with Phil we were too optimistic," said the German.

"Sometimes it happens like this and there is nothing to criticise - he has tried everything he can.

"He trained nearly normally but he doesn't feel comfortable and we have to take care of this because the muscle is a dangerous thing when you always feel it a bit.

"He is training and we will wait. I can wait every day, it is no problem if someone tells me 'Now he is available' and next time he will play with us, no problem.

"Yesterday no-one gave me this sign so today we have to wait again."

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