Liverpool’s pre-season tour of the Far East and Malaysia is over, winning three and drawing one of four scheduled matches. Having returned to Europe, they’ll have a quick break before heading to Finland for a fixture versus HJK on August 1.
Bosman summer signings James Milner and Danny Ings have been heavily involved throughout, with the the former bagging two goals and arguably cementing himself a spot in the central midfield three for the upcoming season.
Ings’ first-team starting spot will be harder to come by, with the 23-year-old Englishman facing an uphill task when battling Christian Benteke, an eventually fit Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi for the centre-forward role.
“Your last pre-season game is always the biggest one,” Ings – who scored a hat-trick in the unofficial friendly versus Felda United – said, reported in the Echo.
“You want all of your squad fit and you want to give everyone game time leading into the season.
“The lads will be raring to go for the season so it’s important with this game that everybody’s fit, everybody’s firing, and looking forward to starting the season, which I’m sure we will be.”
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England international Milner wholeheartedly agreed.
“You build your way in and the training is probably the most important part of the first few weeks of pre-season.”
“It’s nice to get wins and play well in the games but it’s getting that base fitness.
“But as you get toward the start of the season it’s about that match intensity and getting results and building the confidence.
“So that last game before the first game of the season is it’s always important to get not only a win but [also] put in a good performance and get that confidence up.”
On paper, HJK will provide our toughest test of pre-season, and because of that, we expect Brendan Rodgers to deploy a side that could also take the field against Stoke on Premier League opening day.
New signings Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino will be available for the first time, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the two are played from the offset in the friendly, and then against the Potters one week later.
Having witnessed pre-season, most Liverpool fans would prefer Ings to be ahead of Origi in the striking pecking order, so until Sturridge returns from injury – he may be the first choice backup to our biggest signing of the window Benteke.