Hands clapped together and faces beamed with delight as applause rang out at Melwood for Joe Gomez, who joined in senior-squad training for the first time in a year. Gomez had looked every bit a contender for first-team minutes at Liverpool before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last October while away with the England under-21s.
He will, surely, have been keeping up with manager Jürgen Klopp’s methods during his time on the sidelines. And the fitness team will have been preparing his body for the rigors of a Klopp team. But the youngster has never actually trained with Klopp. He’s not done the running. So, it will take time, maybe lots of time, for Joe to work his way up to being available for matches.
The 19-year-old defender almost joined up with the team over the summer but that plan was thwarted when he came down with a case of tendinopathy in his Achilles. As I undertand it, there is pain and movement is poor. This was not good. So, the club has been taking it very slowly with Joe Gomez, ensuring that his return to training is positive and that the player feels strong enough to run a million miles and then a million more just like everybody else.
Klopp will now be able to assess Gomez daily and build on what the manager already sees as a promising player. It’s been a long time out for big JoGo, but his day has finally arrived. He’ll be confident in himself and certainly motivated by the task of impressing one of the most influential managers in the game. And that round of applause should resonate in his psyche for awhile, too. Up the team unity!