With Dejan Lovren an injury doubt for tonight’s Middlesbrough match, 19-year-old Joe Gomez has travelled with the squad today after having his involvement with the U23s limited to 45 minutes on Monday night. It’s far from certain that he will be involved, but even if he isn’t, it’s clear a first team return is nearing.
Whether Gomez will be called on will have a lot to do with Lovren. He was judged fit enough to travel and, like Gomez, has headed to North Yorkshire with the rest of the team. However, the coaching staff reportedly have doubts as to whether he’ll be able to play any role—either starting or on the bench as a substitute.
If he can’t take part in the action tonight, one of Lucas Leiva or Ragnar Klavan would come off the bench to partner with Joël Matip and Joe Gomez would be in the matchday squad. Gomez’ last appearance on a first team teamsheet came more than a year ago, against Everton in Brendan Rodgers’ final game in charge.
Gomez has made four appearances for the U23s since returning and after his initial attempts at a return from a torn ACL in the autumn had been complicated by an achilles injury. Liverpool’s manager has recently pointed to Gomez’ imminent return as a reason the club aren’t looking for defensive reinforcements.
“We had a very good talk,” the Liverpool manager noted ahead of Sunday’s game against West Ham. “He is an unbelievable talent, which everybody knew before. It’s a long injury and if we send him on loan, with his quality, a team will play him every game. That is not what he needs in the moment.
“His pre-season has already started and he can get match time, and will have match time for sure with the U23s. That’s very important. And he has to learn a lot which is good. There’s no rush for him, and no rush for me. At this moment I would say ‘no loan’ but everything else, we will see.”