LORIS Karius knows he cannot afford to be complacent having won the first battle to be Jürgen Klopp’s first-choice goalkeeper.
The German was selected ahead of Simon Mignolet, who has not had a worthy rival for the gloves since joining Liverpool three years ago, for his Premier League debut in the 5-1 win over Hull.
Karius was signed by Klopp from his former club Mainz for £4.7million and the assumption was he would become the new number one.
A broken hand in pre-season delayed his availability, but after a comfortable midweek run-out against Derby County in the League Cup he was handed a start at Anfield on Saturday.
But despite that vote of confidence the 23-year-old stopper knows there is still plenty of work to be done.
“Obviously we (him and Mignolet) train really well because we know we have a strong opponent so I think it is positive for us and the club,” he said.
“We know we have to be at our best to play otherwise there will be another strong keeper waiting.
“It is really healthy competition and we don’t have anything against each other. We try to help each other in training and get on okay so there is no issue between us. The one who doesn’t play is going to be frustrated but the manager has to pick 11 players.”
On arriving from the Bundlesliga, Karius asked for — and was given — the vacant number one jersey, but he insists that was not a conscious decision to set out his ambitions early.
In fact, he played down the significance of his choice of shirt.
Karius added: “The number one is just a shirt really. It doesn’t really say much but it was free so why not take it? If you have the number one shirt and you don’t play any games it doesn’t really help you.
“I think for the people outside it has a bigger meaning than it actually is. It is nice to have this number but it does not automatically mean you are in that position.”
Karius’s Premier League debut may not have finished with a clean sheet but he was rarely troubled by a Hull City side who were reduced to 10 men early on and never posed much of a threat to a rampant Liverpool.
Instead it was an easy afternoon for the German, although he insists he did not stand by and revel in some of the thrilling football being played by his outfield team-mates.
“I had games like this before but I will probably have them more here,” he said.
“I hope it is like this as that means we are playing really well but as a goalkeeper you have to stay in the game because it goes really fast and you only need one shot on goal. It doesn’t really change much whether you have a lot to do or not much.
“When we score a nice goal I am happy for the other guys and then I am a fan but the only time I can really have a break is when we score or when there is an injury break, otherwise you are focused.”