Liverpool are back in action against Everton on Saturday, and one player has the chance to redeem himself over the next week and influence Jürgen Klopp’s transfer plan.
Liverpool’s players were all smiles as they made their return to training on Thursday following the international break, and with good reason.
The welcome sight of the South American contingent being able to take part will have been a big boost, as was the return of Cody Gakpo.
As expected, Andy Robertson didn’t take part after injuring his shoulder while on duty with Scotland.
All in all though, the first session back was perhaps a much better outcome than Jürgen Klopp would have expected, with Caoimhín Kelleher also pictured after missing the Europa League tie against Union SG before the break.
Don’t let the Liverpool boss’ smile fool you though. You don’t have to be a mind reader to know Klopp won’t be happy with his side’s early return to action this weekend.
Once again, the Reds will have to play in the early 12:30 slot on Saturday, barely giving his players a chance to reintegrate following the international break.
The quartet of Alisson Becker, Alexis Mac Allister, Luis Díaz and Darwin Núñez in particular might be feeling the effects following a long flight back from the southern hemisphere.
Nevertheless, Alisson will almost certainly play against Everton, while Diogo Jota could be called upon to cover for Díaz or Núñez. Mac Allister though provides something of a headache for Klopp.
The Argentine clearly wasn’t up to speed following the last international break, and had to be hauled off at half-time against Wolves.
Admittedly, he had only played in the rarefied atmosphere of Bolivia just a matter of days before on that occasion, but his display that day does serve as something of a warning for his manager.
The earlier return to training is likely an effort from Klopp to have a more definitive answer on this occasion. After all, if Mac Allister isn’t ready, the options aren’t plentiful.
With Curtis Jones suspended, one of Ryan Gravenberch or Harvey Elliott will sit alongside Dominik Szoboszlai in the advanced positions in midfield, but there’s no Thiago or Stefan Bajčetić to cover the defensive role. That leaves Wataru Endō as the sole remaining option.
When the Japan international signed in the summer, Klopp was eager to point out his belief that he could “help us immediately”. The reality though has been a little different.
Endō has looked a little off the pace in his appearances so far, and it’s clear that Klopp currently favors Mac Allister in the number six role. The half-time substitution involving the pair during the clash with Union SG certainly seemed to indicate the lay of the land.
But Endō may well get the chance to redeem himself over the next week, and ultimately prove Klopp right.
Mac Allister will be the frontrunner to start against Everton, but the former Stuttgart midfielder is likely to be called upon at some point, especially with Klopp eager to avoid any more injuries or suspensions.