Jurgen Klopp outlines 'perfect' plan for forgotten Liverpool star in midfield – Express

  • October 30, 2022

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Jurgen Klopp has lifted the lid on his plans to introduce Naby Keita back into the Liverpool first-team fold after spending four months on the sidelines. The Guinean midfielder has not played a single minute since the Community Shield in August after suffering a serious hamstring injury against Manchester City.
Keita has returned to training in recent weeks after appearing to finally put his hamstring issues behind him. The midfielder has been plagued by injuries since arriving at the club four years ago from RB Leipzig and has missed more than half of Liverpool matches in that time.
Klopp, who has been hit by injuries in midfield and defence at different points so far this season, also lost his temporary replacement Arthur Melo to a groin injury just weeks after arriving on loan from Juventus.
It was speculated that Keita could even rejoin the squad and be in contention to play some minutes before the Premier League is halted for the winter World Cup in Qatar in mid-November. But the 54-year-old has suggested such a scenario is difficult to envision, with the club putting Keita on a “pre-season” plan while the World Cup takes place.
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“Naby is still in a longer rehab phase,” Klopp confirmed. “[A return before the World Cup] will be tight. I think Naby will have a full pre-season with us in December and it will be perfect for him.
“Even if he can play before [the World Cup] then he has no chance of being fully [match] fit. He comes out of rehab and we only have five games and I wouldn’t rule him out of one or two of them but in this moment there is still a gap to fill.”
The 27-year-old was subsequently left out of the Reds’ Champions League squad as it was predicted by club doctors that he would not be ready to return until the New Year.
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Naby Keita, Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FCHowever, Keita has been spotted in full training ahead of schedule and Klopp has admitted his staff did not expect him back so quickly, with the Liverpool boss exercising caution over his gradual return to action.
“That situation is not sorted overnight,” Klopp said about the injury list. “Yes, players are coming back, but you ask me if Ibou Konate is ready to play… he trained properly yesterday. He was not out long, but he had a muscle thing, so does it make sense to put him straight in for 95 minutes?
“Same with Naby, he needs to train. Oxlade-Chamberlain, needs to train. They are both not in the Champions League squad because everybody told me they would be out for longer. But now they are back, which is good, but not back to play, just to be around and play a few minutes.”
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