Adam Lallana believes that he’s reaping the rewards of his first full pre-season campaign as a Liverpool player, after missing all of last year’s build-up games due to injury.
The England international, who had to wait more than two months to make his Reds debut after signing for us last summer, was this time able to kick off the new season in Brendan Rodgers’ starting eleven – playing the first hour of the 1-0 victory over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
While Lallana struggled to make the desired impact in the Potteries, his performances in pre-season suggest that he will have plenty to offer over the course of the campaign, as we look to retake our place in the top four and win a first major trophy since February 2012.
Speaking about his renewed faith in his own fitness with our official website this week, he revealed: “Physically I am in great shape at the moment – and I’ve not missed a training session or a game to date. So I’m massively feeling the benefits of that and I’m looking forward to the season and to really get going.”
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As for last season, he adds: “I’m sure any professional will tell you being on the treatment table is no good, especially when I’d just joined the club. You want to integrate with the lads a lot more and when you’re away from the group, it’s not as easy to do that.
The differences this time around have been immense and Lallana feels that the whole squad is benefiting from an extremely positive experience in the Far East – which saw us win three and draw one of our four tour games.
“Anyone will tell you pre-season is an important stage for a professional footballer, where you work extra hard and put your body through a lot,” he reflects.
“But I feel we had a good pre-season and the benefits were there to see on Sunday. Different parts of our game that we’ve worked on in pre-season came out as well, and to get a clean sheet and a win at Stoke was a great result.”
Lallana is already itching to get back on the pitch, although unfortunately, he’ll have to wait until Monday for our next fixture – the first of the season at Anfield, which comes against newly promoted Bournemouth.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is confident that Lallana is going to make a big impact this season, as our official website explains, and the former Southampton man will no doubt be hoping that he can start proving him right in the coming match-up.
“I’ve not spoken to him about what he’s said,” admitted Lallana. “Jordan is a good mate of mine and I’ve read a few things he’s said [about me] – and he’s right. I want to have a good season, do well and add more goals to my game. I feel if I stay fit and out on the pitch, that’s what I’ll do.
“I’ve set myself targets, but that’s personal to me. I’ll just be looking to contribute as much as I can towards the team and towards a successful Liverpool campaign.”
With Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Jordon Ibe, Daniel Sturridge and Lazar Markovic all likely to be challenging for a place in our front three, either behind or wide of striker Christian Benteke, Lallana will need to continue impressing throughout the season. However, the player is enthused by the competition.
“That’s the good thing about competition for places – it keeps everyone on their toes and no-one is guaranteed a place in the team,” he explained.
“With all the games we could potentially have this season, it could be a 60-game season with the Europa League and hopefully good runs in both domestic cup competitions. We’re going to need the squad – and I feel as though we have a great one in place at the moment.”
Lallana feels that the win over Stoke was the perfect start to our season – helping banish memories of the 6-1 defeat at the same venue last season – and finished by saying that he hopes we can push on from here.
“It was a fantastic result for us,” he said. “It wasn’t the prettiest of football matches – but it was a lot prettier than the last game of last season for us! Maybe that’s a side of our game that hopefully you’ll see a bit more of this season and if it results in victories, then who is going to ask questions about it? Certainly not us.
“We were delighted with the result and the grittiness of the performance was very satisfying – and we got a clean sheet. It was a great start to the season.”