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Adam Lallana could be back before the end of Liverpool’s season

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Liverpool may have lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but they might just get a reinforcement back just in time.

Adam Lallana has been out since limping off against Crystal Palace on March 31 after just five minutes, but according to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, he’s nearing a return. Klopp said that Lallana’s injury is a thing of the past, and that he’s simply looking to regain match fitness to be able to fully contribute.

“Adam is here doing his fitness work,” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League match against Stoke City on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET. “He’s not injured any more but he’s not fit yet. We hope still that one or two games might be possible for him. We will see.”

Lallana has truly struggled with with injuries this season, spending nearly the first three months of the season on the shelf with a hamstring problem plus he sat for another 12 matches after that for various reasons. Lallana hasn’t completed a full 90 minutes in Premier League play this entire season. However, should he prove fit before the end of the Premier League season, that would also see him available for a potential Champions League final if Liverpool can seal the deal in Rome.

Meanwhile, Klopp also spoke about Emre Can who has seen lots of time in the trainer’s room with a back injury, without an appearance since March 17. The prospects of Can returning are less promising thank Lallana, with Klopp saying, “Emre is a little bit further away. His rehab is improving a lot. It is much better, but it is quite close to the end of the season.

“I haven’t closed any doors on both of them,” Klopp said of the injured pair. “There is still a possibility.”

VIDEO: Adam Lallana sent off for attacking opponent during U-23 match

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England international Adam Lallana has made just six appearances for Liverpool this season due to hamstring and groin injuries, and the club is working him back slowly to ensure he makes a full recovery.

He is finally healthy and now focusing on returning to match fitness, which saw him assigned to Liverpool’s U-23 match against Tottenham on Monday. It did not go well.

Lallana, after losing out on a one-on-one aerial duel with 19-year-old defensive midfielder George Marsh, attacked Marsh by grabbing his neck from behind and shoving the top of his head down. The referee had no choice but to send Lallana to the showers in the 63rd minute after his act of petulance.

It seems that the former Southampton man was upset about the way Marsh came into the aerial challenge roughly from behind Lallana, and after a split-second to think about things while working his way up off the ground, he attacks Marsh who had moved on to follow the play.

Liverpool’s U-23 side found itself down to nine men later as 19-year-old defender George Johnston was also sent off for a second yellow card in the 87th minute. Spurs would win the match 1-0 on a goal just after halftime from Jack Roles, despite the presence of four Liverpool senior squad members, including Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke.

Tactics Session: Liverpool’s midfield to blame for poor defending, too

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Here’s something said by anyone and everyone who’s watched an hour of the Premier League over the last 24 months: Liverpool won’t win the PL title until Jurgen Klopp sorts out that shambolic defense.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

Well, duh, and thanks for really going out on a limb with that one.

On Saturday, NBC Sports’ Robbie Earle went error-by-error in picking apart one of the Reds’ many defensive breakdowns (above video) during last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. In short, Dejan Lovern, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Simon Mignolet were all guilty of critical errors as Harry Kane opened the scoring after just four minutes. There’s another group of players, though, which is worth considering as opponents continue to pick Liverpool apart on a near-weekly basis.

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Theory: it’s actually Liverpool’s midfield which is most responsible for this season’s repeated disasters at the back. The results are as poor as they’ve ever been under Klopp — they had the worst defensive record of the PL’s “big six” sides during Klopp’s first (partial) season at Anfield, followed by the second-worst of the six last season, and are sixth out of six thus far in 2017-18 — with little reason to expect significant change as the defensive characters remain the same. When called upon in 2016-17, again, it was simply more of the same.

The key difference being: they were better protected, thus forced into action less frequently, in the past. Whether by design or happenstance, the midfield and forward lines aren’t disrupting possession and winning the ball back as consistently as previous iterations of Klopp’s old gegenpress system. Most notably, it’s the early moments (first five seconds, or three passes) of opposition possession which haven’t been challenged with that familiar urgency.

[ MORE: England top Spain, win U-17 World Cup ]

Take, for instance, that loss to Tottenham — while Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Emre Can are probably the three most “defensive” midfield options in Klopp’s squad, they’re also the three least mobile and press-suited. Georginio Wijnaldum is often labeled an “attacking” midfielder, that what makes him perfectly suited for the transition from pressing to attacking. The same goes for Adam Lallana, who’s currently injured and gutting this side through his absence. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, should he ultimately end up in central midfield, is very similar in that regard. Marko Grujic, while still a relative PL unknown, profiles better as a central midfielder than the three who started at Wembley Stadium.

Without that constant on-ball pressure, Mauricio Pochettino was inspired in his tactical tweak to feature Harry Winks, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in a pass-heavy midfield-three, as the three on-ball technicians were able to play through the middle third of the field with very little resistance and get at the likes of Lovren, Matip and Gomez more directly. The return of starting right back Nathaniel Clyne (hamstring), who hasn’t played a minute this season, will undoubtedly add a bit more mobility and athleticism to an otherwise plodding rearguard.

It’s a trend that, should it continue, will result in more and more — and easier and easier — goals conceded by the Reds.

Adam Lallana out months with thigh injury

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Liverpool have been dealt a serious blow as the club confirmed winger Adam Lallana will miss “several months” with a thigh injury suffered in the match against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

“This is certainly not news we would have wanted,” manager Jurgen Klopp told the official Liverpool website. “Unfortunately, the damage is such that it will likely mean Adam is out for a couple of months not weeks, so I think we can pretty much rule him out of August and September.”

[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

“Beyond that we will monitor and wait and see. He is a boy with a world-class attitude to everything professionally and he has always come back in good time from injury setbacks since I have been here, so we will see.”

The 29-year-old had a strong season last year as an important part of Klopp’s squad, scoring eight goals and assisting seven in 31 league appearances, only missing time in April due to a hamstring injury.

It’s unclear what exactly the injury is this time around, as it was not specifically announced, but with the length of time out, it’s likely he tore a muscle.

Lallana steals a Wenger-ism: Sturridge “like two new signings”

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“Getting [X-player] back from injury will be like a brand new signing for us.”Arsene Wenger, every August and January, when asked why he decided against splashing the cash in the transfer market.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundupSaturday | Friday ]

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana apparently liked what he’s been hearing from the Arsenal boss all these years, and has elected to double-down on the old adage by claiming that a healthy and fit Daniel Sturridge “would be like having two new signings” at Liverpool this season — quotes from the Telegraph:

“Listen, [Sturridge] has been absolutely brilliant in preseason so far. You couldn’t put a price on him. He is a world-class player. He has come back from the summer looking absolutely brilliant, so fit. He is going to be a massive player for us this season. I can feel it.

“He is looking really sharp and to have him firing on all cylinders would be like having two new signings if he can keep on the pitch and scoring goals.”

[ MORE: Conte’s goal for Chelsea? “To avoid the Mourinho season” ]

We’re awaiting word on how signing Sturridge not just once, but twice this summer, will affect Liverpool’s standing with regard to Financial Fair Play.