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Klopp defends Sturridge as Liverpool boss left frustrated by Swansea performance

The England striker headed straight down the tunnel, and didn’t join his team-mates in applauding the away fans.

Sturridge headed straight down the tunnel at full-time.
Sturridge headed straight down the tunnel at full-time.
Image: David Davies

JURGEN KLOPP ADMITTED Liverpool’s young players have much to learn after his weakened side slumped to a lacklustre 3-1 defeat against Swansea.

Two goals from Andre Ayew and one from Jack Cork at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday proved enough for Swansea to guarantee their Premier League safety.

Christian Benteke pulled one back for Liverpool, but Klopp’s team were well beaten in a fixture sandwiched between the more significant business of their Europa League semi-final against Villarreal.

Liverpool will now turn their attention to overturning a 1-0 deficit in Thursday’s semi-final second leg against the Spanish side at Anfield and Klopp was quick to concede the youngsters he brought into a team featuring eight changes were still some way short of the finished article.

“The performance was different to Bournemouth. We did not play as well as we could and our performance was not as good as it could have been,” Klopp said.

“We tried to bring in fresh legs, as we have done in the last few weeks. However, I am only frustrated because we could have played better.

“Had we have played a bit nearer to 100 per cent, it would have been completely different.

“The first two goals were too easy, they deserved the win and we deserved the defeat. But our performance was responsible for that and we have to recover and prepare for a big game in Thursday.

“I cannot change my mind on players after every two days. Everyone said how good they were after Bournemouth, but it is not always a honeymoon period and you have to prove yourself and deliver.

Swansea City v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League - Liberty Stadium Klopp was left frustrated by Sunday's defeat. Source: David Davies

“It is not a problem for the future, only for today. They need to use the information for the future and we have to improve.”

Klopp also defended Daniel Sturridge’s decision to make for the dressing room at full time, rather than joining his team-mates in thanking the vast numbers of travelling Liverpool fans.

“He was not ignoring the fans, I went in immediately also, I hope our fans know how close we are to them,” Klopp said.

“You want to go home, rest and recover after a game like that. My fault if someone does not say thank you is down to me.”

The suggestion was that England forward Sturridge was disappointed not to have been withdrawn sometime during the second half.

Having played the full 90 minutes, he is now unlikely to start on Thursday after he was an unused substitute in Spain in midweek.

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“I spoke to him at half-time, he said he wanted to play and it was no problem,” Klopp said.

“We have a few days. I am happy. I do not know who will play against Villarreal.

“The Europa League is now our focus, but the Premier League will be our focus next weekend. Life is like this, we have played well with different line-ups, today we did not.

“We hope there are five games left this season and that is a good sign as we are still in the competition.”

Swansea City v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League - Liberty Stadium It was a good day for Swansea as they secured their top-flight status. Source: David Davies

Swansea’s victory ensured a successful rescue mission for manager Francesco Guidolin, who took over with the club in danger of relegation.

“I am happy for my players, this is the most important thing because they showed they are not on the beach,” Guidolin said.

“I am happy we are safe. I felt we were safe three weeks ago, but not mathematically.

“To have 40 points with five games to go was important, now we have 43 so this is not the worst season Swansea have had in the Premier League.

“I have done my job very well and I thank the players, assistants and staff.

“I am happy. I am proud because this is my first time in the Premier League.”

© AFP 2016

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