Daniel Sturridge’s brace sent Liverpool into the EFL Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night, though Jurgen Klopp stressed the England striker did not need to prove himself in his eyes.
The Reds striker scored his first club goals since August, when he grabbed another double in this competition against Burton, in a 2-1 victory over Tottenham that was recorded by a Reds team featuring 11 changes.
Of those that will come into consideration for the Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on Sunday, Sturridge, Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum seemingly pushed themselves to the front of the queue at Anfield.
Sturridge’s case would have been furthered had he scored even more, and there were spurned opportunities he will rue, but Klopp claimed he has always retained belief in an injury-prone forward who has only started four league games this term.
“That’s his talent, that’s his strength; he’s a finisher,” the German boss said.
“He’s a really good striker, no doubt about this. I was never in doubt about him, even when he didn’t score. It’s not a question. There’s nothing to discuss about quality or something.
“Divock Origi didn’t score but he played quite well. Danny Ings when he came in didn’t score but played really well. Daniel, (they were) wonderful goals for us, really important, in the right moment he could have scored three or four then it would have been perfect. But it was really good.
“There is no discussion about the quality of Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Danny Ings. It’s only a situation. We cannot play with four strikers. If you have any idea how we can do that, plus defending, come to me and tell me!”
With Eric Dier the only player among the 22 who retained his spot from the weekend’s Premier League action, this was a measure of the two squads’ respective depth.
In that sense, the hosts appear to have a stronger group, which may be a factor should either team maintain their league title push, though Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, who saw his team pull one back through a Vincent Janssen penalty in the second half, hopes his youngsters can grow from this Anfield assignment.
“It is very important for our future to build a better squad,” said the Argentinian, who used three teenagers to Klopp’s two during the game.
“I think our project is completely different to Liverpool. It was a fantastic opportunity to show the quality and for that it was a great experience that we need to capitalise on and take positive things for the future.
“It’s important to be positive because I think we tried to play, tried to fight against a Liverpool team that is very good. They have one of the best squads in England and it was difficult. For that, I feel very, very proud for the effort of my players.”