It wasn’t too long ago that this particular scribe began to get excited about the return of Alexander Oxlade-Chamberlain. In fact, I even wrote, optimistically, about his cameo in a U23 match. At the time, I didn’t mention the reason for his coming off so early, because none of the official reports indicated it was due to anything. And though there were eventually rumblings of a small twinge that later turned out to be nothing, I still rode out that particular news cycle as one might do on their favorite roller coaster.
As we moved towards the international break there seemed to be an opportunity, though, to truly give in entirely to the hope of a healthy and recovered AOC buzzing around Anfield during Liverpool’s final run-in. I mean, it would stand to reason with the beloved midfielder back in full training and taking minutes in youth matches to find fitness, there might be a real expectation to have him available.
Jurgen Klopp, though, wants everyone to maybe pump the breaks just a bit. When asked about Ox at his press conference ahead of Sunday’s match against Tottenham Hotspur, the gaffer preached patience.
““I think one of the biggest mistakes I made [in press conferences] was being so excited about having Ox back – not because it’s not exciting having Ox back, it’s very exciting. But the spotlight on the game at Derby with the U23s was pretty rare. So now we keep him a little bit in the shadow; he is in a good moment, he will train. When he is back and when he is ready to be properly back then I will inform you.”
There you have it: no further word on Ox until he is well and ready. Which is, likely, the best course for the longterm health of Ox. It also speaks to Klopp’s vaunted man management and the depth of the current squad that he feels no need to rush AOC back into action.
And even as a leader in the AOC for President of the Universe brigade, I don’t disagree. We’ve seen all too often how serious injuries collude with the pressures of elite athletics as big business to ruin the careers of so many. Ox has a manager who believes in him, top physios working with him, and a team of quality players to make do in the mean time. Stay healthy, keep progressing, and I’m sure he’ll be back in the squad soon enough.