Jurgen Klopp defends 'very important' Wataru Endo amid criticism

Jurgen Klopp has issued his support to 'very important' summer signing Wataru Endo amid some criticism levelled at the Japan captain.

Endo endured another difficult evening against Toulouse in the Europa League, hooked at half-time after a pretty woeful performance against the French side.

The former Stuttgart man was perhaps fortunate not to be sent off as well, committing a needless foul after already having been booked earlier in the match, while the challenge he was cautioned for was not too dissimilar to the one that saw Marcus Rashford sent off for Manchester United on Wednesday.

Endo has shown glimpses of his quality in both the Europa League and Carabao Cup, even netting his first goal for the Reds during Liverpool's 5-1 thrashing of Toulouse at Anfield. However, he still has his doubters.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference before the Brentford game this Sunday, Klopp reiterated Endo's importance to Liverpool, drawing parallels between the 30-year-old and Andy Robertson in terms of his start to life on Merseyside.

"Wataru was for us all the time very important," said the Liverpool manager. "That’s again another part of football: you line up an XI, they play well and then you think the others don’t do well. That’s not true.

"Wataru makes steps every day and that’s important. We had stories like this in the past. This year it looks a little bit different, that players maybe fit in a bit quicker, but we had stories: Andy Robertson didn’t play for half a year, nobody can remember it anymore but it was like that.

"Other players as well had their struggles in the beginning. That’s all fine. He didn’t even struggle, we played pretty good, successful and he is super-important for us."

Klopp added: "He played a lot of games. If he plays all the games, you say: ‘He is not starting in the Premier League.’ It’s nothing to do with the Premier League or whatever, it’s a little bit rhythm. But he will definitely start games in the Premier League, 100%."

Endo could start only his second league game for Liverpool this Sunday against Brentford given Alexis Mac Allister is suspended and Stefan Bajcetic remains injured. With Curtis Jones and Thiago also out, and Ryan Gravenberch doubtful for the visit of the Bees, Klopp will be short on midfield options.

The only other start Endo has had in the Premier League was against Newcastle United earlier in the season, a game in which he was a little out of his depth - somewhat understandably given the Reds were reduced to ten men early on after Virgil van Dijk's red card.

Whether Klopp trusts the combative midfielder against Brentford remains to be seen, but injuries and suspensions means that the German may have no choice but to start Endo.

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