Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool’s frequent injury problems this season may have cost them a bid for the Premier League title.
Liverpool were top of the table in November but fell away around the festive period when fixtures and absences began to build up.
Klopp has been without key players for lengthy spells throughout the campaign, with Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge all sidelined at various points.
Now hoping for a top-four finish, Liverpool continue to be without Mane, Lallana and Henderson, while Lucas Leiva, Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip are doubts for Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace.
“It makes it not easy in a lot of situations,” Klopp said of his team’s injury record. “I think we all agree that if we could have played our first 12 or 13 for the whole season … we are only six, seven, eight points away from the very interesting region of the table.
“It’s not unlikely that it could have worked, but it’s not important now because we don’t know for sure. It’s not allowed to look back. We have to find a lineup solution for the next game.”
The Liverpool manager, however, said he does not believe the large number of injuries throughout the squad this season are a result of the high-intensity style he demands from his players.
“Look at the injuries we’ve had, not a lot of muscle injuries which is a sign of intensity,” he added.
“It’s not the moment in the season where we are having the hardest training or whatever, so it’s all about individual situations.
“It’s not about day to day, it’s just … the best word is unlucky.”
Meanwhile, sources have told ESPN that Liverpool will target a central defender in the summer transfer window, with the Reds comfortably conceding the most goals out of any team in the top five.
Liverpool’s goals against column in the league standings currently reads 40 — more than relegation-threatened Middlesbrough — and Klopp wants to fix his leaky defence next season.
“Look at the goals we’ve conceded this season, they don’t make sense as a statistic,” he said.
“Not a lot of teams have outplayed us. It is not that they create chance after chance after chance, we defend really well. It is not interesting how you concede goals because it’s still a goal, but for us it is important.
“It is not because there’s a fault in our general defending style — it is not that we are too high or can’t defend counter-attacks. We don’t concede a lot of goals like this.
“We are a good defending team, the highest level defending team, but at the end we still concede goals from different situations. We have to improve of course but it is not the biggest issue we have.
“We have conceded a few [goals] around set pieces and a few counters, but not attacks. The number of goals we’ve conceded is absolutely too high.
“It is really rare in my personal history that we concede goals like that big number, but we will work on it 100 percent. But it’s not about a defending style.”