LIVERPOOL: Roberto Firmino may be available to return from injury to help Liverpool’s push to secure Champions League qualification against relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield on Sunday.
Ordinarily Liverpool would start as warm favourites but having not won in three successive home games that can give some succour to their pursuers Arsenal, who can still overtake Jurgen Klopp’s side for a top four finish if the hosts drop points.
Klopp would like to have Firmino available as the Brazil international has made a significant impact in front of goal this season with 12 goals.
However, he missed last Sunday’s 4-0 win at West Ham with a knock, and was unable to train this week although he was ably replaced by Daniel Sturridge against the Hammers.
Sturridge, making his first Premier League start since January after overcoming a series of injury problems, opened the scoring.
Firmino’s return would give Klopp a welcome extra option in attack, though, and the German seems to believe it could happen.
“The news is very positive,” Klopp said.
“We could not decide until now, but he feels good and he feels comfortable.
“He did a lot of things, but was not part of team training. That’s not a problem after this long season.
“I think we will make a final test on Saturday. In this moment, I would rather say ‘yes’ than ‘perhaps’, but I am not sure.”
In theory, Liverpool ought to secure a Champions League place comfortably; all they need to do to be certain of at least fourth position is to beat a Middlesbrough side who have won away just once all season in the league, and that was at bottom club Sunderland in August.
However, Klopp’s team have been jittery on their own turf of late drawing with Bournemouth and Southampton either side of a defeat by Crystal Palace.
“Three teams have to go down each year and Middlesbrough are one of them,” Klopp said.
“But if you watch their last few games, then they were close.
“They fought really hard to stay in the league.
“They were not really lucky at some moments. They played Manchester City not too long ago and were close to more than a point.”
Caretaker manager Steve Agnew insists Middlesbrough won’t have their minds on the rapidly approaching summer break, and are keen to end a run of 41 years without a win at Anfield.
“We’ll do everything we can to set the team up well in order to put up a top performance for our supporters,” said Agnew, who is thought unlikely to get the manager job full-time.--AFP