Augsburg vs Liverpool: Henderson calls for consistency

The most realistic route to Champions League football for Jurgen Klopp and his players is going all the way in Europe's second-tier competition.

Henderson - cropped

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been restricted to just 16 appearances this term due to a chronic heel problem.

Captain Jordan Henderson hopes Liverpool has put a season of injury struggles and inconsistency behind it as it begins a potentially pivotal run of fixtures at Augsburg in the Europa League.

England midfielder Henderson, who has been restricted to 16 appearances this term due to a chronic heel problem, completed 90 minutes as Liverpool romped to a 6-0 Premier League win at lowly Aston Villa on Sunday.

The result left Liverpool eighth in the table - nine points behind fourth-place Manchester City, who it faces in the League Cup final on February 28 before City visits Anfield in the league three days later.

The most realistic route to Champions League football for Jurgen Klopp and his players is going all the way in Europe's second-tier competition, and Henderson believes Liverpool must maintain its level of performance from Villa Park if it is to gain an advantage in the first leg of a tricky round-of-32-tie.

"We have had a lot of injuries this season and we have struggled because of it at times," Henderson said. "But hopefully we have been through the worst of it. We have struggled to find consistency but if we can keep it going we can beat anyone."

Liverpool was able to combine returning striker Daniel Sturridge and Brazilian creative talents Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino to dazzling effect against Villa.

With the City double-header on the horizon, Klopp – who has previously lamented fixture congestion for his stretched squad this term – must ponder the trio's workload, although Henderson will be happy to admire their talents if they are thrown together once more at WWK Arena.

"Those three are top, top players," Henderson said. "You just let them go and play and cause havoc. I want to join in with them but I have to be careful about leaving space in the middle. I have got to think more about protecting the defence when we have got players of that quality in front of us."

Christian Benteke and Divock Origi could push for starts after the latter came off the bench to score on Sunday, while defender Jon Flanagan is in line for his first European involvement since the Europa League trip to face Anzhi in November 2012.

Augsburg performed creditably in a 3-1 loss to Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich on Sunday – the Europa League's joint top-scorer Raul Bobadilla netting their consolation.

Thursday's match is Augsburg's first competitive encounter with English opponents, while Liverpool is seeking to avoid the fate it suffered last season and in 2012-13 when they were knocked out of the Europa League at this stage by Besiktas and Zenit respectively.

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