12 Jan Caulker not just a ‘pool’ player
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s desire for Premier League experience in a centre-back led him to sign QPR’s Steven Caulker on loan.
The German had been linked with a host of names, including Neven Subotic at former club Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan’s Andrea Ranocchia – he is interested in Schalke’s Joel Matip, but only in the summer when he is out of contract – but plumped for a defender with knowledge of the British game.
Caulker, a former Tottenham centre-back who has also played for Swansea, Cardiff and QPR in the top flight, was on loan at Southampton but due to a only making a handful of appearances his deal was cancelled in order for him to move to Anfield.
He will provide cover to what has become a threadbare unit with hamstring injuries to Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren sidelined for a few weeks, with Kolo Toure (cramp) and Mamadou Sakho (knee) expected to return to face Arsenal on Wednesday.
“We looked for Premier League experience because in this short time, you need that experience,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.
“We looked for a good header [of the ball] because that’s what we need – we want to play good pressing, we want to press the opponent and so they have to play long balls.
“If they play long balls, you need people in the last line who can help you with headers and we’ve found it with Steven Caulker.
“He was not in the best situation in Southampton, didn’t play too much, but this is January and we want to have the best solution for us and we are absolutely convinced that Steven is the best solution for us.
“I am looking forward to working with him. He will be here today and then we can start working, so everything is good.
“January is the only month where we can do something. We did it in this position [defence] and now let’s go on.”
Liverpool finalised a deal before the noon deadline meaning Caulker will be available, if needed, for tomorrow’s visit of Arsenal and the defender travelled north to be able to train with his new team-mates late in the day.
He made just eight appearances for Southampton this season – the last of which came against Liverpool in last month’s 6-1 Capital One Cup quarter-final defeat – but only one of those was a Premier League start, back in August.
Liverpool’s scouting department were more than familiar with the centre-back as he was a target for previous manager Brendan Rodgers.
While Liverpool’s injury problems may be easing at the back up front there is no chance of a swift return to action for striker Divock Origi after he underwent a minor knee operation.
The Belgium international was expected to be back in training in the next week after a hamstring injury sustained on Boxing Day against Leicester.
However, the 20-year-old has had surgery to fix a long-standing issue with his knee.
Press Association Sport understands the procedure was just a “clean-up” of the joint but it does mean Origi will be sidelined for another three to four weeks.
With Daniel Sturridge still not ready to return from a hamstring strain sustained at Newcastle on December 6 and Danny Ings out for the season after cruciate knee ligament surgery, it leaves manager Jurgen Klopp with just one fit striker in Christian Benteke.
He also has the option of playing Roberto Firmino as a “false nine” for Wednesday’s visit of Arsenal.