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Jürgen Klopp and the Big Fitness Update on Henderson, Milner and Shaqiri

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Key absences in Liverpool’s midfield give Klopp a decision to make at Watford.

Liverpool FC v CR Flamengo - FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Jürgen Klopp has a couple of his center stalwarts still ruled out of action with injuries. Thankfully, there are quite a few midfielders who would love to get into the team with Jordan Henderson and James Milner in recovery.

Naby Keita has started two matches in a row and will hope to continue his run in the side. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wants a regular spot. Takumi Minamino would take that attacking midfielder role in a flash. Adam Lallana thinks he’s got a shot, too. And don’t forget about the rise of Curtis Jones.

Klopp addressed the absence of Henderson, Milner and an unfortunately fragile Xherdan Shaqiri at his pre-Watford press conference and projected confidence in each player’s progress.

“All coming closer, much closer,” said Klopp.

“Hendo is running. Milly is running even more. It was not enough for this game but we will see, especially with Milly, what we can do for Tuesday.

“Shaq, not yet. But all coming closer. All good.”

Henderson may still have a couple more weeks of hamstring rehab before getting onto the pitch again. Shaqiri’s recovery time table is still unknown but we’ve seen so little of the Swiss player this season that he’s been largely forgotten as a critical asset to Klopp’s rotation.

Milner is 34 years old and, as difficult as it is to wrap your head around, his body won’t last playing at Liverpool’s level for too much longer. Klopp is going to want to get the best out of Milner’s last seasons and that means using him more sparingly.

If Milly actually is available for selection in the FA Cup 5th round match at Chelsea on Tuesday I’d expect him to start on the bench and make a second half cameo.