During his pre-Burnley press conference Jürgen Klopp offered some injury updates to his squad that included some uplifting news. Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez are both nearing returns to the pitch and, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rapidly approaching first-team availability, the manager is hopeful of having some key players in the match day squad in the coming weeks.
Gomez has been out since early December with a fractured leg and still has longer to wait than Lovren, who is back in training, but Klopp is apparently encouraged enough by the England defender’s progress to have offered a predicted time for his return. It’s April, which sounds like a long ways away. But that’s just how good news is for us now.
“It’s a rather positive moment,” Klopp said. “Most of the things will probably be rather after the international break. For example, Joe.
“Joe is now running with 100% of his weight because we have different opportunities to run. He is now 100% (running), that’s good. It looks good.”
Lovren returned to training on Thursday and made it through in good shape. The Croatian is not expected to be used against Burnley on Sunday but his availability in the following matches could be crucial to Klopp’s tactical rotation through the end of the season.
“Dejan trained yesterday for the first time, completely normal,” said Klopp. “But we have to see.
“He was out for a while so we have to see his fitness. He’s not injured any more, he is fit but how fit we have to see.”
James Milner is a hard maybe for the match at the weekend due to a muscle problem he has been dealing with but the manager knows never to underestimate the power of James.
“Millie we will have to see,” Klopp said. “It’s Millie, everything heals quickly with Millie but he was already outside yesterday. He had a little bit of a muscle issue but still a few days to go until the game and if you ask Millie he will be ready.
“He trained yesterday with the rehab coach and we will see how he is today.”
I’d prefer to see Naby Keita get a run out in the XI against Burnley anyway. Maybe a little Xherdan Shaqiri to liven things up after Burnley suck the soul out of the match.
So, Klopp looks likely to end the season with his full compliment of senior defenders fit. On the evidence of this season it’s clear that the partnership of Virgil Van Dijk and Gomez reigns supreme. The two were dominant together to start the season. If Gomez really is going to be back to full fitness in April, his inclusion next to Van Dijk raises Liverpool’s level in the final stretch. If it’s still all to play for at that time, his return will feel miraculous.
I might even let myself get excited.