Milner and Firmino sidelined as Klopp braces Liverpool for Premier League pursuit

James Milner and Roberto Firmino are set to be absent as an excited Liverpool launch their Premier League “chase”, manager Jurgen Klopp announced.

Milner was forced off in the 38th minute of Liverpool’s 3-2 EFL Cup defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday after sustaining a hamstring injury against his old club.

He will now be unavailable for the Premier League trip to another of his former teams, Aston Villa, on December 26, and the December 30 clash at Anfield with Leicester City.

Firmino missed the loss to City with a calf injury sustained in training, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been dealing with a virus that kept Trent Alexander-Arnold out of the last-16 defeat. Oxlade-Chamberlain came on as a substitute against City.

“Milly [Milner] will be out for a couple of games,” Klopp said ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Villa Park. “Same for Bobby [Firmino], even though Bobby is already on the better side of it, it’s not a major thing and we will go day by day with him.

“Ox is fine. No other stuff. We have to be careful [with the viruses going around] like everyone else. Trent hopefully will be better. He hasn’t taken part in a full session, let’s see how that develops until tomorrow.”

Liverpool resume the Premier League season following the World Cup break sitting 15 points behind leaders Arsenal and seven behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

The Gunners’ renaissance and Newcastle United’s emergence as Champions League contenders are complicating Liverpool’s pursuit of a place in the top four, but Klopp remains positive.

“We are really excited [about the Premier League season restarting]. All the players who are back from the World Cup look really on it,” Klopp said.

“Hendo [Jordan Henderson], for example, had a good World Cup and that was helpful.

“We have left a gap between us and much more exciting positions in the table. We have to chase.

“There is a lot to come, we don’t think about the break any more. It’s a start for something new and building on the things we’ve done so far and knowing and expecting that we can do better – starting on Boxing Day.”

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