Football: Liverpool manager Klopp sweating on Salah fitness ahead of Palace trip | Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp faces an anxious wait over the fitness of forward Mohamed Salah as the Premier League leaders prepare for a trip to Cr

Football: Liverpool manager Klopp sweating on Salah fitness ahead of Palace trip

Football: Liverpool manager Klopp sweating on Salah fitness ahead of Palace trip

Football: Liverpool manager Klopp sweating on Salah fitness ahead of Palace trip

Football: Liverpool manager Klopp sweating on Salah fitness ahead of Palace trip

Football: Liverpool manager Klopp sweating on Salah fitness ahead of Palace trip

Football: Liverpool manager Klopp sweating on Salah fitness ahead of Palace trip
Football: Liverpool manager Klopp sweating on Salah fitness ahead of Palace trip
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LONDON: Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp faces an anxious wait over the fitness of forward Mohamed Salah as the Premier League leaders prepare for a trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday (Nov 23).

Egyptian forward Salah has been struggling with an ankle injury since a heavy challenge from Leicester City's Hamza Choudhury during Liverpool's 2-1 win early last month.

He was ruled out of Egypt's matches against Kenya and Comoros and was pictured wearing a protective boot on his left ankle last week.

"Yesterday he trained. He has been training the things we want him to do. It's not that he has got worse, it's just that it (the injury) is there still," Klopp told a news conference on Friday.

"We have to be sensible. I have to see the session today before I make a decision."

Virgil van Dijk is available for selection after he pulled out of the Netherlands squad for the match against Estonia in midweek.

But Klopp is yet to assess the fitness of other key players who have returned from international duty.

"Virgil is 100 per cent available. I cannot say 100 per cent for the others," the German coach added.

"Today is an important session with the players who came back late - Bobby (Roberto Firmino), Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum. You have to wait until the last second to make a decision but nobody came back injured."

Swiss playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri has returned to first-team training after missing over a month due to a recurring calf issue.

Shaqiri has featured for around 25 minutes for Liverpool this season and has made only one start since January but Klopp is convinced the player still has a future at Anfield and will play a key role in the coming weeks.

"When I am with him he is fine here, speculation is speculation and nothing we can change," Klopp said.

"I have no idea what I can say about it. He absolutely has a future here. This season, he is a very, very important player for us. He needs to be fit for the impact he can give us and that is all we are focused on."

Trump: Hong Kong would have been 'obliterated in 14 minutes' if not for me

Trump: Hong Kong would have been 'obliterated in 14 minutes' if not for me

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump claimed Friday (Nov 22) that were it not for him, Hong Kong "would have been obliterated in 14 minutes" by Chinese troops.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump said President Xi Jinping refrained from sending in the military against demonstrators in the semi-autonomous city only because he asked him to.

"If it weren't for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes," Trump said.

READ: First-aid workers slam medic arrests at Hong Kong campus

READ: Hong Kong's clouds of tear gas spark health panic

Trump's comments come as he mulls signing congressionally-approved legislation in support of the pro-democracy activists - or bow to Beijing's threats of retaliation if the laws pass.

Asked whether he would veto the legislation, green-lit by an overwhelming margin in Congress on Wednesday, Trump equivocated.

"I'll tell you we have to stand with Hong Kong but I'm also standing with President Xi. He is a friend of mine he is an incredible guy," Trump said.

"I would like to see them work it out. We have to see them work it out," he added.

Trump cast his relationship with Xi as the bulwark keeping China from moving against increasingly violent protests that have rocked Hong Kong.

He added that a "million soldiers standing outside of Hong Kong are not going only because I asked him: 'Please don't do that. You will be making a big mistake. It will have a tremendous negative impact on the trade deal.'"

In the same interview, Trump said Washington and Beijing could be on the cusp of sealing a partial trade deal but reiterated he was in no hurry to sign.

But Trump's remarks were a rejoinder to statements made hours earlier by Xi, who had told a gathering of dignitaries in Beijing that China wanted a deal but was "not afraid" to fight back if needed.

"We have a deal, potentially very close," Trump said during his interview.

"He wants to make a deal much more than I want to make it. I'm not anxious to make it."

READ: US-China trade war 'hurting both countries': UN

Trump added that revenues from tariffs on Chinese imports were a windfall for the United States, something economists say is in fact weighing on the economy.

Trump's remarks did little to clarify whether the two parties are in fact making progress in finalising the text of the "phase one" agreement Trump announced last month.

China has called for a rollback of existing US tariffs as part of the agreement but US officials have said instead they could consider delaying a fresh round of duty increases that are set to take effect on Dec 15.

The US-trade conflict is now well into its second year, with hundreds of billions of dollars in two-way trade subject to steep duties.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

Follow us on Telegram for the latest on Hong Kong: https://cna.asia/telegram

India courts private hospitals to boost insurance program

India courts private hospitals to boost insurance program

NEW DELHI: India will offer incentives to private hospitals to take part in the government's health insurance program, potentially the biggest of its kind in the world, a senior government official told Reuters.

Launched last year, the scheme is critical to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plans to reform the country's health system, where private healthcare is too expensive for most people and public hospitals are overburdened and often dilapidated.

The "Modicare" program offers families health cover of up to 500,000 rupees (US$7,000) a year for serious ailments - a significant amount by Indian standards - but the scheme has struggled to gain traction.

India has so far registered about 20per cent of the eligible 500 million people, due to lack of public awareness of the scheme and low private sector participation, said Indu Bhushan, CEO of the National Health Authority (NHA), which runs the program.

"There is a challenge of creating awareness and building the required infrastructure," Bhushan said in an interview. "We need to work more on awareness ... give us time."

Under the program, more than 6 million people have so far received treatment free of charge, he said.

Currently, 60per cent of the approximately 20,000 hospitals registered under the program are in the private sector, Bhushan said, adding that increasing their participation was critical to the scheme's success.

Private hospitals, however, are concerned about costs. A report by Indian lobby group FICCI and consultants EY said in August that private hospitals complained that treatment rates offered by the NHA covered only 40-80per cent of their costs.

Bhushan said his agency was in talks with hospitals, industry groups and service providers and was open to revising rates, even though he had last month increased payments offered to hospitals for some treatments.

"We are hoping that private sector would come. If rates are not viable, private sector will not come," he said.

The NHA's budget spending also reflects the slow uptake of the scheme. The health agency will spend only 50-55 billion rupees (US$766 million) of the allocated 62 billion rupees in the current fiscal year that ends in March, said Bhushan.

In order to expand the scheme more swiftly, however, the NHA was likely to seek at least 80 billion rupees for next year, 30per cent more than its current annual budget, a senior government source said.

"In the next one year, the scheme should be quite well-known across the country," Bhushan said.

(Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Aditya Kalra and Giles Elgood)

Liverpool rivalry making champions City better - Richards

Liverpool rivalry making champions City better - Richards

MUMBAI: Manchester City's rivalry with Liverpool is pushing them to even greater heights but the Premier League champions need European success, former City and England defender Micah Richards told Reuters.

Juergen Klopp's Liverpool, who are undefeated for 11 months and 29 Premier League games, lost only one league encounter last season -- a 2-1 defeat at City, who then pipped them to the title by a point.

The Merseyside club are European champions and top the Premier League by eight points, as they look to end a three-decade wait for a domestic league title.

Yet Pep Guardiola's City, who are currently fourth in the table and nine points adrift, have won the past two Premier League titles and Richards anticipates another tense battle to the finish line with Liverpool.

"They have stabilised the team a lot. I think Klopp's a big part of that," Richards, who is in India as part of City's trophy tour, said in an interview.

"And what I like a lot about Liverpool is that they are pushing City to be greater.

"When you win things it's because normally someone's pushing you. Healthy rivalry with Liverpool can only be good for Man City.

"Liverpool are a good team, European winners and respect to them. But we have won the Premier League twice in a row. So, in terms of consistency Man City are a better team, we just need to get that last one in Europe now just to show everyone."

Guardiola's team won an unprecedented domestic treble last season but Europe remains the final frontier left to conquer.

City have reached one Champions League semi-final but were knocked out in the quarters by Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the last two seasons.

'NO RUSH'

Richards, who won the Premier League and the FA Cup with City, feels the Champions League is a difficult trophy to win but the Manchester club are on the right track.

"Clubs have been doing it for years and years, we got into the Champions League in 2010," the 31-year-old said before launching a community football project in Mumbai as part of the club's Cityzens Giving campaign.

"We can't just expect to win everything. Everything's a process, we are on right track. And we just need the cherry on the top with the Champions League. But there's no rush in terms of we need it now, now, now because Rome wasn't built in a day."

Richards, who was England's youngest-ever defender when he made his debut at the age of 18, said City have been desperately unlucky with injuries to key defensive personnel this season but advised against panic buying in the winter transfer window.

He was confident Liverpool could still be caught.

"Nine points in November is not impossible to bring back. We've got a tougher challenge on our hands but we like a challenge," he said. "We just need to focus on ourselves and make sure we win our games. And come May, we'll see."

Klopp has in the past hailed his City counterpart Guardiola as the best manager in the world and Richards said he would have wanted to be a part of the Spaniard's team.

"People always ask me why Pep is the best. I think he's the best because he spends so much time off the field, he's a perfectionist," he said. "It's not luck ... It's hard work, his determination.

"What he's done last two years in winning the league, record points and stuff like that. We've had some great managers, Alex Ferguson, (Arsene) Wenger, (Jose) Mourinho, but for me Pep took it to the next level."

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