Basel vs Liverpool: Adam Lallana claims to be back to full fitness as he fulfils Champions League dream

The summer signing has yet to show his best for his new team

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The Independent Online

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is fulfilling a childhood dream by finally playing in the Champions League.

The 26-year-old is in line for his second start having played for just over an hour in the Reds' late victory over Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets last month and - after missing the start of the season with a knee injury - is now looking for game time to get up to speed with his team-mates.

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"I've always dreamt about playing in this competition as a kid," said the £25million summer signing from Southampton ahead of their Group B match in Basle.

"I feel I am more or less there (on fitness). I knew it was going to be tough, I am just delighted to be back playing for such a fantastic club.

"I think it gives you more game opportunities to get up to speed, to knit with the group and your new team-mates.

"It is obviously a tough competition and there is no easy game but, to take the positives out of it, it is another game."

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Manager Brendan Rodgers will be hoping for a good performance from Lallana against Basle, with England striker Daniel Sturridge not yet fit to return from a thigh strain.

The Swiss side have begun their season with seven wins in 10 league matches, although they were over-run by Real Madrid 5-1 in their opening Champions League match.

Rodgers will not be taking their opponents, who have beaten Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United in the last four years, lightly having seen his own side scrape past Ludogorets with an added-time penalty.

"This is a club that is used to winning. They play like a big team," he said. "When they come into this tournament they have that confidence and freedom and they have some excellent players.

"The Chelsea games home and away last season showcase that to everyone."

 

Liverpool return to the scene of one of their embarrassing Champions League exits as Basle's St Jakob Park was the venue in 2002 for their 3-3 draw - having been held 1-1 at home - which saw them exit the group stages.

Captain Steven Gerrard is the only survivor from that side but it is not an event about which he speaks much considering he suffered the ignominy of being replaced at half-time by Salif Diao of all people with the side 3-0 down.

Gerrard ranked it as one of the worst performances of his career - prompting then manager Gerard Houllier to publicly question whether the then burgeoning 22-year-old was believing his own hype - so no wonder no one has asked him for his recollections.

"I've not had that conversation with him," said Lallana of Liverpool's defeat 12 years ago.

"It is great we have a role model like Stevie within the group: he's been there and done it before, lifted the trophy so his experience is invaluable for us."

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