Wataru Endo’s return has been welcomed by Jurgen Klopp and his presence could unlock Alexis Mac Allister’s further upfield for Liverpool.
Endo returned to Merseyside earlier this week after Japan were surprisingly knocked out of the Asia Cup by Iran last weekend at the quarter-final stage.
The midfielder hadn’t featured in Liverpool’s last seven games due to his international commitments, having started the previous eight in the defensive midfield role with Mac Allister sidelined by a knee complaint.
The duo have started only three games together this season, none of which saw them play together for more than an hour. But they could now be paired for the Premier League visit of Burnley on Saturday, with the return of Endo allowing for Mac Allister to operate in a more advanced role in midfield.
“He can, but he has done extremely well as a six,” said Klopp of the Argentine international.
“So we will see how we sort that. But it’s good. Macca and Wataru can play together as well, there’s no doubt about that. It’s not a problem.
“We just have to make sure that we try as much as we can to bring them in the right moment together, so let’s see.”
After a difficult start to his Anfield career having arrived from Stuttgart in the summer, Endo had found a rich vein of form before heading off to the Asia Cup in Qatar in early January.
And Klopp, speaking on Friday, added: “From that point of view, it might have been the wrong point (for him to leave). Besides that, we came through the period without him pretty well. That was pretty impressive.
“But how he was before he left, he was super influential on the pitch. He gave us an opportunity in a lot of moments to really involve and introduce a lot of offensive players because his protection was just exceptional, his playing side of the game as well.
“It’s his birthday today and turns 31. He looks good since he’s come back. With all the problems we have in the moment with players, it’s super important to have him back.”