Liverpool vs Burnley - Liverpool hope Lovren's return can help solve defensive woes

Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 by PA

Liverpool have the worst defensive record bar one of the Premier League's top-10 teams so the return to fitness of Dejan Lovren will come as a welcome relief to manager Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds have conceded 34 times in 27 matches, the same as West Brom and Southampton with only Stoke (40) having shipped more goals.

Part of the reason for that frailty has been Klopp's inability to select his first-choice centre-back pairing of Joel Matip and Lovren.

Injuries have restricted the pair to just 10 league outings together but on the rare occasions they have played alongside one another the team has not been beaten, with five wins and five draws and just nine goals conceded.

Lovren was an unused substitute for last weekend's win over Arsenal after returning from a persistent knee problem which had sidelined him for three matches.

Prior to that Matip had his own injury problems, in addition to issues over his availability during the African Nations Cup after turning down Cameroon's attempts to select him.

Back-up centre-half Ragnar Klavan and midfielder Lucas Leiva have been required to fill in during absences as out-of-favour Mamado Sakho (now on loan at Crystal Palace) was training with the under-23s.

But Lovren looks set to come back in for Sunday's visit of Burnley as Liverpool look to avoid another slip-up against a team in the bottom half of the table.

"As a manager there is no time to be frustrated because always you have to take what you get," Klopp said when asked about not being able to field his strongest defence.

"That means if somebody tells me a player is injured I have no time to think 'Oh my God, again?'. It's like 'Okay, so let's find a solution', you always have to think."

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino is a doubt for Burnley's visit, having missed training with a muscle problem.

Midfielder Jordan Henderson (foot) and striker Daniel Sturridge (hip) are still sidelined.

Michael Keane would love Burnley's first away win of the season to come at Anfield having admitted Sean Dyche's squad have become tired of discussing their travelling woes.

The Clarets play their 14th Premier League game of the season away from Turf Moor on Sunday and all but two of their 31 points have come in their own stadium.

It is a monkey they have failed to dislodge from their back even when visiting Accrington and Sunderland in cup competitions, and Dyche's 12th-placed side cannot escape the questions about it given they are currently in the midst of a four-game run on their travels.

"It's something we did talk about, we spoke about it a lot but now I feel like we've got bored of going over the same things over and over again," Keane admitted.

"We've got points on the board - no matter how they come we're in a good position so we go into every game the same way. It's just not been happening for us, it would have been good to nick a point at Swansea but we didn't deserve it if we're honest."

Dyche will be able to call upon Joey Barton on Sunday as the midfielder's Football Association hearing into betting offences, which could possibly led to a lengthy ban, was postponed on Wednesday.

Goalkeeper Tom Heaton will return having overcome illness but Steven Defour, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Dean Marney are all injured.



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