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Klopp backs Karius to silence critics

Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius to “close his ears” to criticism ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with West Ham.

Bournemouth clinched a dramatic 4-3 victory over Liverpool last weekend after Karius fumbled a shot from Steve Cook in stoppage-time which allowed Nathan Ake to bundle the ball into the net.

Karius, who joined Liverpool from Bundesliga outfit Mainz in May, displaced Simon Mignolet as Klopp’s first choice and is set to keep his place at Anfield this weekend despite the costly mistake.

“I heard the criticism was very harsh. When we analysed the game I found eight players who could have defended the goal before Loris was involved,” Klopp said.

“He made a mistake too. Even the best goalkeepers in the world still make mistakes. We know we have to deal with pressure.

“There is no perfect recipe for development but close your ears helps a lot. I am quite good at this actually. Hopefully he can adapt to my skills.”

Liverpool are boosted by the return of centre-back Joel Matip, who missed the defeat to Bournemouth with an ankle injury.

But England striker Daniel Sturridge will miss the fixture against the Hammers after he was ruled out of Liverpool’s next two matches with a calf injury.

Sturridge has not featured for the Reds since a 12-minute cameo in the goalless draw with Southampton on November 19.

No specific timescale has been put on the 27-year-old’s return by Klopp, although the German hinted he may be available for the Merseyside derby on December 19.

Sturridge has frequently struggled in December and has not started a single Premier League match for the Reds in the month since he joined in January 2013.

The England international’s last start in the month came for Chelsea on New Year’s Eve 2011 against Aston Villa.

– Humiliated –

“He won’t be with the team. I have no idea when he will be back. What can you do? Nothing. Wait. That is my job,” said Klopp.

“He is not in training with the team at the moment so we don’t have to think about him for the team with West Ham and Middlesbrough, but maybe after then.”

Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic admits he felt humiliated after last weekend’s 5-1 home defeat to Arsenal left West Ham hovering one place above the relegation places. 

Hammers boss Bilic has so far struggled to maintain the progress from last season, but he maintains he has the full support of the club. 

“I feel the support, I have said it so many times,” he said. “In the conversation we had this week, I felt the support. 

“I spoke a few times about it, with my squad, and I know what we achieved last season and it is time for us to turn it around.

“We had meetings with the squad and individually and the only way we can get out of the situation is to train hard and hope the luck comes on our side. Keep going and keep working.

“We have to be positive, I have got a great reaction from the players this week. I felt really bad. Not only me, we all felt bad. 

“To be one down on 70 minutes but lose 5-1, you are angry, frustrated but you have to get over it, which we have done and we have a big game on Sunday.”

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