If you asked most people when Liverpool’s pre-season ended, they’d tell you last week before kickoff against West Ham in the opening game of their 2018-19 Premier League campaign. If you asked Jürgen Klopp, though, you’d probably get a different answer.
With a number of players returning to pre-season late after the summer’s World Cup and a handful of late injury issues, the Liverpool manager is on record as saying that the real end to this year’s pre-season is Monday night’s kickoff against Crystal Palace.
That match, Klopp has said, is when the fitness of the entire team is meant to peak ahead of the new season—the one that, of course, started on Sunday. And with that in mind, the manager has continued working many of his players like it’s pre-season.
His focus on getting those late returning stars and injured first teamers match fit for the new season culminated in an intra-squad match today that saw the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Dominic Solanke, Jordan Henderson, and Fabinho given a run-out.
Also involved was Joël Matip, who played the entire match this afternoon after taking part in training this week and could be fit for Monday. Those who started on the weekend were rested for the match and have had a lighter week of training.
That leaves only Dejan Lovren and long-term injury absentee Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as first team regulars who won’t be in contention to start when Liverpool take on Palace in their second game of the Premier League season.