Gakpo backs Liverpool forwards to fill in for absent Salah

Liverpool striker Cody Gakpo (L) in action for Liverpool against Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans. File photo

Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo believes his side have the forward firepower to cope without Mohamed Salah when the Egypt star departs for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

Darwin Nunez ended a run of 12 games without a goal, while Diogo Jota came off the bench to score after a month out injured in a 2-0 win over Burnley on Tuesday which took Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table.

Salah has one more Liverpool game — at home to Newcastle on Sunday — before he departs for the African Nations Cup and the 16-goal winger is set to be away from Anfield on international duty for up to a month.

That makes Nunez and Jota’s goals against Burnley all the more timely, with Gakpo having scored seven himself so far this season.

“For every attacking player who didn’t score for a few games, it’s always nice to get back on the scoresheet and Darwin did it with a very good goal,” said Gakpo.

“For Diogo as well. When you are injured and you come back and score that’s always nice and good for the confidence. So really happy.

“Mo is gone after the Newcastle game so we need the goals. Of course, I think I can contribute even more.”

Liverpool captain Virgil Van Dijk added: “It’s always important for the guys up front to score goals. I am delighted for Darwin. Diogo, it’s the same story. It’s good to see the boys back on the scoresheet.

“I also want to say that Cody was outstanding, in the first half especially. It’s good to see. Everyone has to keep pushing each other. That’s the only way we can get better,” the Netherlands defender explained.

“Others have to step up anyway. We have to deal with losing Mo and we have the players up front who can make the difference. Let’s see how we deal with it.”

Liverpool are now two points ahead of Arsenal, although the Gunners will return to the summit with victory at home to London rivals West Ham on Thursday.

“The table is not looking in a bad place but we have to take it one game at a time, don’t let our heads go everywhere all over the place, just stay focused and keep doing what we are doing now and even improve more,” said Gakpo.

The 24-year-old Dutch attacker has never before experienced English football’s packed Christmas and New Year schedule, with Gakpo enjoying himself as matches come thick and fast.

“It’s the first time I played with this intensity — a lot of games in a few days – and it’s nice as if you play a good game you can play again and if you play a not-so-good game, you can make it good in the next game as it’s coming nice and quick,” he said.

“Everybody wants the three points — also the opponents — so you have to work really hard every game and you have to be able to win games different ways.”

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