Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his return to action with a start on Friday for Liverpool’s U23s, but it wasn’t all good news for the 25-year-old midfielder, as he was withdrawn after 40 minutes despite plans for him to play the entire first half.
Today, though, Jürgen Klopp said that it was only precautionary, and that with how long Oxlade-Chamberlain had been out there was always a good chance he would feel some mild tightness that might require him to cut his return short.
“It’s not really surprising, it’s normal,” was the manager’s update on the status of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s recovery today on the club’s official website. “The good news is the knee is perfect—nothing happened. That was our only concern.
“Football games are different to football training, that’s why he felt the muscle a little bit. Even if it was only five minutes earlier than we thought, [taking him off] made absolute sense. Nothing else happened. We always said he needs time.”
As such, the player remains on track for a potential return to action with the first team around the start of April, though there will have to be a few more—and longer—U23 appearances before then and Klopp doesn’t want to rush it.
“Maybe I’m a bit guilty for being too excited,” he added of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s potential first team return. “If nobody asked me I wouldn’t start talking about Ox, but they ask me and I say the truth—and the truth was it looked so exciting in training.
“But it’s only small-sided games, shooting situations and all that. It’s Ox, we all know and love him, but at the end of the day we all need to make sure we are ready for the big-size pitch. And for this he just needs time. It’s all good.”