For fans of club football, most international breaks largely revolve around two things; which injured players will be able to recover in the intervening time before club football begins again, and which players will come back injured from playing with their national side.
When a World Cup comes up — especially one that takes place during the winter months in the middle of a ludicrously compressed season — the concerns remain the same, only the time scale changes; injured players have more time to work their way back, and healthy ones have more games in which to get hurt.
For Liverpool, who have had to rely almost exclusively on the trio of Roberto Firmino, Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah to score their goals for the past month, the hope is that the front line will be more fleshed out when the ball starts rolling again at the end of December, but, according to assistant manager Pep Lijnders, it is unlikely that more than one of the missing goal threats will return in that time.
“Luis definitely, if everything goes to plan,” the Dutchman said when asked if Luis Díaz and Diogo Jota would be able to join the club’s mid-pre-season in Dubai. “We can’t wait to see him back, he is this player who smiles when he has the ball at his feet.
“Diogo will join us to continue his rehab. The conditions to train and recover in Dubai are just very, very good. A change of scenery is always a welcome factor when recovering from a long-term injury.”
Jota and Díaz both dropped out of contention due to injuries during the early weeks of October, with the former having only recently made his return to the side after a pre-season injury prevented him from partaking in the early stages of the campaign, and will be welcome re-additions to the squad when they return, allowing Jürgen Klopp to manage the accumulation of minutes played by his attackers as well as deploy different constellations depending on specific tactical matchups.
With Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah having the tournament off as well, that means only Darwin Núñez remains as an injury worry for Reds fans over the next five weeks or so. Which I’m sure we’ll handle tremendously rationally.