Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana insists Jurgen Klopp’s training regime is not to blame for a spate of hamstring problems which have brought injuries to crisis levels at Anfield.
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho and defender Dejan Lovren both succumbed to hamstring issues in the 1-0 Capital One Cup semi-final win at Stoke.
Klopp now has a total of 11 first-team players unavailable - including six either with or recovering from hamstring injuries - and the German admits it is likely to force him into the transfer market. He currently only has one fit centre-back in Kolo Toure, who gave his manager a scare with a late bout of cramp at the Britannia Stadium.
There has been much conjecture about whether the introduction of Klopp’s ‘gegenpressing’ style mid-season after he took over from the sacked Brendan Rodgers has led to the injuries - former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness said it was time for the manager to consider modifying training - but Lallana rejected that.
“We have had a change of manager this season. When that happens lads look to impress more and give more,” said the England international.
“But I don’t think these injuries have got anything to do with any changes to our training.
“We’ve had so many games recently that we’ve mainly been doing recovery sessions between games, so it’s not as if the training has been really intensive. You can’t blame that.
“Sometimes you are just unlucky with injuries and we’ve had a lot of bad luck recently.
“I know from my time at Liverpool that we’ve got a world-class medical team here. We certainly can’t point the finger at anyone.
“It’s a big blow losing Philippe and Dejan, and we just hope they aren’t going to be out for long.”
Liverpool’s packed schedule - Friday’s FA Cup trip to Exeter will be their fifth match in 14 days - is more likely to have a contributing factor, Lallana reckons.
“It’s just a physical game,” Lallana added.
“Look at the amount of games we’ve had over the Christmas period. It’s been a tough run and with the demands on players nowadays there’s bound to be injuries.
“If you look at teams around the league I bet you’ll find the number of injuries has definitely increased.
“Not every club is in the semi-finals of this competition (League Cup), playing in the Europa League and about to get going in the FA Cup on Friday night.
“But we’ll all stick together. I’m sure the lads who are out will be working extra hard to get back fit.”
Klopp has already pointed out his team are doing more recovery sessions than training because of the fixture congestion and the gradual drain on resources has put additional strain on the remaining fit players.
But his biggest concern is in central defence where he is hoping Toure will be fit enough to face Exeter, but Mamadou Sakho, who missed the Stoke tie with a minor knee problem, appears unlikely to return.
“The problem is if all the players in this moment had no injuries in pre-season they are still in the race and can cope with this intensity, but they have had little things and had no chance to recover,” he said.
“We have no break, no chance to recover, but we couldn’t wave the white flag.
“We can’t say we have games against Arsenal and Manchester so we can have another team against Stoke. We have to get on with it and see.
“I don’t know if any have a chance of being fit. Sakho? I don’t think so. Kolo said it’s only a cramp, but don’t know for him either.