Tuesday will mark the opening of Liverpool's preseason slate of fixtures, with a low-impact friendly against a Thailand XI planned. As usual, it will be about getting back in an environment somewhat resembling match action, with a mixture of younger faces and new arrivals trying to avoid injury and give supporters a nice occasion. Who's involved isn't typically the most important aspect, but in a summer that's involved another ongoing transfer saga, it will take on added significance, especially with the revelation that wantaway forward Raheem Sterling has been included against his wishes.
It's not entirely surprising given all the indicators from the club, who have once again struck a hard line with a high-profile player trying to engineer an exit. There's not a like-for-like comparison to be made with Sterling and Luis Suarez, but Liverpool and FSG's response has been the same, and for Sterling, the expectation is that he'll see out the terms of his contract, which includes joining the 30-man squad on their preseason tour.
His inclusion comes as a handful of others are omitted, including Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, and Jose Enrique, each of whom are expected to be sold or loaned away once an acceptable offer is lodged. Balotelli has only just returned to training following the death of his father Francesco, who had raised the striker since the age of three. Like Borini and Enrique, the 24-year-old has apparently been told there is no room in this season's squad for him, and missing out on the traveling squad has underlined that point.
It's not all negativity and concern, of course, as there's also the usual chances to see some of the youth team players, including Harry Wilson, Ryan Kent, and Sheyi Ojo, along with recent additions James Milner, Danny Ings, and Nathaniel Clyne, as well as the likes of Divock Origi, Joao Teixeira, and Andre Wisdom in Liverpool shirts, which will be the first time for Origi after a season on loan at Lille immediately after signing. Like the transfer window, Liverpool's preseason tour has provided plenty of intrigue before it's even started, and all signs point to the next few weeks being full of action.