PREMIER LEAGUE

Klopp salutes Liverpool ace Minamino and reveals Firmino fitness update

Takumi Minamino did his hopes of more involvement in Liverpool's first team no harm with a double in the EFL Cup win at Norwich City.

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Klopp salutes Liverpool ace Minamino and reveals Firmino fitness update

Jurgen Klopp hailed Takumi Minamino as a "top character" after the Japanese forward fired Liverpool past Norwich City in the EFL Cup.

The Japan forward's two goals, either side of a header from Divock Origi, guided the Reds to a 3-0 win at Carrow Road.

Minamino's influence at Liverpool has not reached the levels some expected it might after he joined from Salzburg in January of last year, and he spent the second half of the 2020-21 season at Southampton.

For now he is back at Liverpool and keen to make an impression, and a smart turn and finish for Liverpool's opening goal was an example of his quality.

A recent minor knock set Minamino back slightly, but he looked sharp against the Canaries as both sides made sweeping personnel changes for the cup clash.

Klopp: "Minamino was really good in pre-season"

"Players need time to get back on track after an injury. But Taki is in a really good moment," Klopp said in a post-game news conference.

"He trained very well and deserved his two goals. For the first one he showed really good awareness, quick in mind and finished the situation off.

"He was really good in pre-season then he got injured, and now the rest of the season can start. 

"He was injured at the wrong moment. Coming back, it's sometimes not so easy, but he is a top character obviously and enjoyed the game tonight and that was important for him and important for us, so that will help him and it helped us."

Although Minamino caught the eye, his prospects of a run in Klopp's Premier League team look remote for now and it may be his appearances prove sporadic, spread across competitions.

Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino returned to training on Monday, Klopp said, after a hamstring injury lay-off, and when fit he remains ahead of Minamino in the pecking order.

"It is not too far away when he will play again," Klopp said of Firmino.

Liverpool's manager watched on appreciatively as teenagers Tyler Morton, Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley helped Liverpool get the job done, all three making their first-team debuts.

"I'm really happy for the boys, it was a big one for all three," said Klopp. "These boys are good and thank God they're ours."