September 18, 2021

Lonergan reveals ‘little magician’ he dreaded facing in Liverpool training

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The Reds’ recently departed back-up shot-stopper has opened up on the challenge of trying to keep out some of the best players in the Premier League

Andy Lonergan has revealed the “little magician” he dreaded facing in Liverpool training, while opening up on a memorable season at Anfield.

Liverpool brought in journeyman goalkeeper Lonergan last August as Jurgen Klopp looked to bolster his options between the sticks, with ex-West Ham star Adrian also arriving at the club on a free transfer.

Despite not making a single senior appearance in 2019-20, the 36-year-old has been part of the Premier League-title winning squad, while also benefitting from the chance to work alongside a plethora of world-class talent at Melwood day in, day out.

Lonergan is now a free agent following the expiration of his contract, but is open to penning a new deal at Anfield if the opportunity presents itself.

Although the quality within Liverpool’s squad didn’t come as a shock to the English shot-stopper, he has singled out one player as the most deadly with the ball at his feet in the final third.

Lonergan has admitted that he feared coming up against Xherdan Shaqiri, the Swiss winger who has built a solid reputation over the course of his career for being a dead ball expert with superb technical ability.

“No-one’s surprised me because they’re all unreal,” the Reds’ keeper told the Liverpool Echo. “The one I really don’t like facing is Shaqiri. When he’s shooting, he can do whatever he wants with that left foot. I’m always thinking when we’re doing five-a-side, ‘Please be on my team,’ because if he’s against you, he’s a little magician with his finishing.”

Shaqiri has struggled for regular playing time throughout his two-year spell at Anfield, mainly due to the form of first-choice front three Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Lonergan says a talismanic trio’s devastating impact on the pitch is a result of their hard graft in training, and that not even No 1 keeper Alisson is able to keep them out when they are in full flow.

He added on the challenge of facing Liverpool’s fearsome attacking triumvirate: “It’s brilliant facing them but it’s tough. I remember the first few shooting sessions before Alisson came back and I thought, ‘I’d love to see how Alisson gets on in this shooting.’

“I remember speaking to him about it. Sometimes it doesn’t matter who’s in goal, you can’t stop them. When they’re 12-yards out with a free shot at goal, more often than not it’s going top corner or in off the post.

“To make a save, you have to make a worldie. They’re brilliant. Three great guys as well. They never stop working in the gym. It’s not luck, how they perform, it’s all preparation and how they look after themselves.”