Wataru Endo will return to Merseyside after Japan suffered a heartbreaking 96th minute loss to Iran in the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup.
Endo played the whole game, in which Japan got first blood in the 28th minute. However, Iran evened the score in the 55th minute, and then converted a penalty at 90+6’ to see them through to the semi-finals.
Japan’s loss in Liverpool’s gain, and Jürgen Klopp will finally have his new midfielder available for the second half of the season. It will be too early to see see Endo against Arsenal tomorrow, but the Premier League match against Burnley next weekend may see him back in action.
For such a short month, February is packed with fixtures. Four back-to-back league games lead to the Carabao Cup against Chelsea at Wembley and then the fifth round of the FA Cup against either Southampton and Watford.
It will be all hands on deck, especially in the hardworking midfield, so Endo’s return is good news for all.
Mohamed Salah was also initially away on international duty, representing Egypt in the African Cup of Nations. An early injury meant that he left the Ivory Coast ahead of schedule to receive treatment. Despite Egypt’s elimination from the contest, Salah is still not ready for action, with Klopp hinting that it will be at least a few weeks before he is rehabilitated.
Things could have gone poorly for the Reds in the height of winter without two important players, particularly Salah, but the whole team has stepped up and launched them into first place in the league.
There’s still plenty of season left, but the team is in a good place, with Endo’s imminent return an extra boost for an already excelling team.