Jurgen Klopp is considering giving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain his first senior start in 13 months – and would be happy for his midfielder spends early summer with England.
‘Of course for Ox, each football game would be good,’ said Klopp. ‘The only thing he lacks now is rhythm, football, 90 minutes, big pitch all that stuff. So if Gareth needs him I think it would be good and possible.
‘It is perfect that he is back but the intensity of the game we will see. It is very good that OX is there and for sure he will be in the squad but we have to make a decision who starts. We will use him, of course, but there is nothing good to say about Naby’s injury but Ox being back is brilliant, yes.’
Klopp is expected to bring back Jordan Henderson for the trip to St James’s Park, having surprisingly omitted his captain – one of his team’s top players in April – from the starting line-up in Barcelona. Liverpool’s manager revealed why he took that decision.‘Hendo played five games in a row, in outstanding shape,’ said Klopp. ‘I usually don’t like to explain things like this but I do it once. Five games in a row, only one in the midfield who did that. And three games in 6 days are coming. So it is clear Hendo cannot play these three games.
‘So you tell me which is the most important? Always, I am the friend of the players…but not their best friend. I make decisions for good reasons – my reasons, obviously. Sometimes people understand them, sometimes not. But I expect situations like this.’
The trip to Newcastle is a game Liverpool have to win if they are to stand any chance of taking the title race to the final day; it is a game loaded with the potential for trouble but Klopp has no doubt about his side’s mental capabilities.
‘We didn’t have to pick up players at the late dinner in Barcelona when we were sitting around and give them a hug or whatever,’ said Klopp. ‘That’s in us. You cannot go to Barcelona and expect you are 3-0 up after the first game and then you have a holiday game or whatever in the second one.
‘It’s not like this. In the very decisive moments, the boys were really there – that’s good and now we have to carry on like this. Not too long anymore but we have to.’