Saturday 21 October 2017

Reds woe as Lallana is ruled out three months

Lallana (p) suffered a thigh strain against Atletico Madrid in midweek Photo: PA
Lallana (p) suffered a thigh strain against Atletico Madrid in midweek Photo: PA

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool's Adam Lallana will miss the first three months of the season, delivering a major setback to the Merseyside club after they were handed a tough Champions League qualifying round draw.

Lallana suffered a thigh strain against Atletico Madrid in midweek and examinations yesterday confirmed a significant blow to the player and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp's plans.

Having just completed the pre-season conditioning work in Germany, the timing could not be worse for Lallana and Klopp, especially given Liverpool must overcome a tricky tie with Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim to reach the Champions League group stage.

Lallana is the second Liverpool player to suffer a knock during the Audi Cup. Daniel Sturridge also hurt his thigh in Munich and will not travel for the final pre-season game against Athletic Bilbao in the Aviva stadium today. Philippe Coutinho will also sit out the game as he nurses a sore back.

Klopp had remarked how he expected more competition for places this season, but having failed to sign Naby Keita from RB Leipzig, there will be even greater urgency to add more class to ensure injuries do not undermine this year's ambitions.

Liverpool must overcome a Hoffenhiem side led by Julian Nagalsmann, at 30 the youngest coach in the Bundesliga, if they are to take their place back among the European elite, travelling to Germany for their first leg on Tuesday Aug 15 with the return leg on Aug 23. It was arguably the toughest pairing available for Klopp's side.

"It was clear when we knew who we could face that there would be no easy game. It's Hoffenheim and that's for sure not an easy game," said Klopp.

Merseyside rivals Everton, meanwhile, will face Croatia's Hadjuk Split as they seek to confirm a Europa League group place. Ronald Koeman's side will be at home in the first leg on Aug 17, with the trip to Croatia seven days later. (©The Daily Telegraph)

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