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Stoke City v Liverpool: Semi-final tonic for beaten Premier League duo

Stoke City and Liverpool will aim to bounce back from weekend disappointment in the Premier League in their League Cup semi-final first leg at the Britannia Stadium on Tuesday.

Mark Hughes’ Stoke were undone by former boss Tony Pulis on Saturday, going down to a late 2-1 defeat at West Brom after Geoff Cameron was sent off, while Liverpool were insipid in their 2-0 loss at West Ham.

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is eager to put their dreadful display at Upton Park behind them immediately.

“We’ve got a new game coming up very quickly, the semi-final, so hopefully we can put things straight there because it’s very important,” Mignolet told Premier League Productions. “Hopefully we can do well against Stoke.

“Any game we play we want to win. We focus on the next game in hand. We’re featuring in all competitions and that’s a positive thing.

“We can do well in all of the cup competitions we’re featuring in. We’ll try to do our best in the next game – that’s Stoke so we’ll focus on that.”

Jon Walters scored Stoke’s goal in the West Brom loss and the Republic of Ireland international hopes to call on his experience of two-legged encounters against Liverpool.

Walters scored a decisive second-leg brace as his country overcame Bosnia-Herzegovina in November to book their place at Euro 2016.

“I don’t think it’s important to get a lead, I think it’s important to be in the game,” he said.

“The majority of us in the dressing room have played two-legged games before, I certainly have like you’ve seen with the national team not long ago.

“Hopefully we can get a good result on Tuesday, and if we’re still in the game then it turns into a proper cup game.

“Liverpool have a lot good players that can hurt teams, so it will be a tough game, so we’ve got to be right at it.”

Liverpool were once again without Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) and Jordan Henderson (ankle) at West Ham, while Divock Origi – a hat-trick hero as Southampton were dispatched 6-1 during the previous round – is also sidelined with a hamstring problem, along with centre-back Martin Skrtel.

James Milner could return from a calf complaint while Jordon Ibe started at Upton Park following a bout of illness.

Jurgen Klopp must also decide whether to select regular number one Mignolet or revert to Adam Bogdan as in previous rounds of the League Cup. The ex-Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper turned in an error-strewn display when he featured in the 3-0 Premier League loss at Watford before Christmas.

Aside from being without the suspended Cameron, Hughes is unlikely to be able to call upon hamstring injury duo Marc Muniesa and Stephen Ireland, with Saturday’s FA Cup trip to Doncaster Rovers a more realistic target for both men.

Sun 3 Jan, 2016
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