Adam Lallana made his return from injury against Chelsea at the end of November, making it to the bench for the key match against Liverpool’s top four rivals and then onto the pitch for the final minute of regulation time plus a few extra minutes of stoppage time. It could, at best, be called a cameo appearance.
He followed it up by being left out of the squad for Stoke City and Brighton, and with rumblings he wouldn’t be in the squad for Wednesday’s decisive Champions League tie against Spartak Moscow emerging today, it led to questions and concerns about his fitness status and whether he had actually fully recovered.
“Adam will not be in the squad for this game tomorrow, but he is in a very good way,” manager Jürgen Klopp insisted today when asked about the midfielder. “We want to build him up with his fitness. He is keen as you can imagine, but also he is old enough to know there are a lot of important years to come for him.”
Lallana will not face Spartak, then. That much is certain. But it’s not because he isn’t fully recovered from his injury or because he has any fresh injury concerns, at least as far as Klopp is letting on. Rather it’s down to the fact he hasn’t played football—outside of that brief Chelsea cameo—in nearly four months.
He may be fit, but for Lallana, this is pre-season, and fit doesn’t necessarily mean match fit. And with a busy run of fixtures over the holidays and into January, it might not be the worst idea to bring Lallana back slowly so he’s ready to go as others begin to tire. Hopefully, though, it won’t be much longer before he is ready.
“There are lot of important games to come for him,” Klopp added. “It’s not about coming somehow in the next one, it's about being best prepared for all the rest."