London, Jan 6 (IANS) Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp has acknowledged his emotions were bitter-sweet in the aftermath of 1-0 Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg victory over Stoke City on Tuesday night — a game in which three of his footballers sustained injuries.
Liverpool on Tuesday lost playmaker Philippe Coutinho in the 18th minute and then defender Dejan Lovren in the 36th minute to what appeared to be hamstring problems at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, before another defender Kolo Toure also picked up a knock in the closing stages.
The Reds also have captain Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Martin Skrtel, Danny Ings, Joe Gomez and Divock Origi all sidelined.
And though Jordon Ibe struck the contest’s only goal before half-time to give Klopp’s side what could prove to be a crucial advantage ahead of the second leg at Anfield on January 26, the coach admitted the injuries had taken the gloss off a fine night’s work from his team.
“As a football game with our start, how we continued, how we stood in the game and how we defended first the playing build-up of Stoke, then the long balls, and how smart we were in defensive things, with pressing, coming out and moving — it was really good,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com after the match.
“But it’s a big, big shadow for us over the game that we cannot ignore — we have two injuries (Coutinho and Lovren) and I honestly don’t know how serious they are. They did not look too good and so we have to wait,” the German added.
“At 1-0, or even 2-0, nothing is decided in the first leg of a semi-final. It is like it is and we’ll have to see what we can do after this game. It’s a little bit of a strange feeling — on one side it’s very, very good because we won the game and played well, the players fought brilliantly. But, two injuries — that’s not good.”
While Klopp was unsure how long Liverpool could expect to be without Coutinho and Lovren, he confirmed Toure suspected his issue was cramp.
The Ivorian was drafted into the starting line-up in place of Mamadou Sakho, who the coach explained was still feeling the impact of a heavy challenge received against Sunderland last week and was unlikely to be ready to face Exeter City on Friday night.
“(Kolo’s performance was) perfect. The best situation was the one just before he had cramp when he blocked the ball,” said Klopp when asked about Toure’s commanding display.
“Kolo played outstanding tonight and was really good for us, but we’ll see if he can play the next game.”