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Klopp seeks display fit for expanded Anfield as Leicester visit

Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp wants his Liverpool players to use the unveiling of Anfield’s giant new Main Stand as the platform for a sustained assault on the Premier League.

Saturday’s visit of champions Leicester City will see Liverpool officially open the redeveloped stand, which increases the capacity of their ground by 8,500 to over 54,000.

The 115 million pounds ($153 million, 135.9 million euros) project obliged Liverpool to play their first three fixtures away from home and they picked up only four points on their travels.

“Four points does not feel too good, but it’s not really bad. We are the only team in the Premier League with three away games,” Klopp said.

“Now we start the season with a home game. We have to start the season and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for us.

“The day before yesterday was the first time I had been inside Anfield since the Chelsea game (on the penultimate weekend of last season).

“It’s really, really impressive, what they have done there. It’s an outstanding job.

“I have no idea how somebody could do something like this, but when you stand in front of it, it’s really amazing.”

Liverpool were one of only two teams to beat Leicester in the league last season, Arsenal being the other, and Klopp thinks they will provide fitting adversaries for the occasion.

“This is a good place and a good opponent. The champions coming, we celebrate them all,” said the German.

“It was really well deserved, what they did last year. They are still good — all that stuff.

“But I would say it now: it’s another season. It’s our first home game with 8,000 more in the stadium.

“That’s more power and we should use this and start now with our first home game. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

– Vardy frustration –

Goalkeeper Loris Karius, a 4.7 million pounds signing from German side Mainz, has returned to training after suffering a broken hand in pre-season.

But he is likely to have to wait to make his Liverpool debut, with Simon Mignolet expected to keep his starting place in goal.

Defender Ragnar Klavan is unavailable due to a knee injury aggravated on international duty with Estonia, while midfielder Emre Can remains absent with an ankle problem.

Leicester will return to the scene of one of last season’s few disappointments, with defeat at Anfield in December one of only three during their 5,000-1 Premier League title triumph.

But for Jamie Vardy, the last meeting between the clubs delivered one of the abiding memories of the campaign as he netted a memorable long-range goal in February’s 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium.

Vardy approaches the game following a frustrating week with England, for whom he was an unused substitute against Slovakia.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has urged his star striker to make a point to England manager Sam Allardyce by again being a thorn in Liverpool’s side.

“For me, it is good; for him, no,” said Ranieri of Vardy’s England omission.

“Maybe he is more hungry. Show me. You have to fight and say, ‘Hey Sam, I am ready to play!’ He’s refreshed, he trained very well.

“It (the Liverpool goal) was a special moment. But I forgot it. Believe me, always I forget what happened yesterday.”

Ranieri could hand a debut to new record signing Islam Slimani, who joined from Sporting Lisbon on transfer deadline day for a fee of around 30 million pounds.

The 28-year-old striker was due to meet his new team-mates for the first time on Friday after returning from international duty with Algeria.

“He is a goal-scorer,” said Ranieri. “He holds the ball very well. He is good in the air and now we have the chance to go straight away on the counter-attack.”

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