Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has vowed not to take any unnecessary risks with Thiago Alcantara’s fitness as he steps up his return ahead of Sunday’s clash with Leicester. The midfielder is back in training ahead of the visit of the Premier League leaders after being sidelined by a knee injury suffered in the Merseyside derby.
Reds fans have not seen much of Thiago since his £20million transfer from Bayern Munich in the summer.
The 29-year-old ran the show in midfield when he made his debut, coming on for the second half of Liverpool’s win over Chelsea in September.
But he was then sidelined by coronavirus, before making his first start in last month’s 2-2 draw against Everton, during which he suffered a knee injury which has kept him out since.
Liverpool are in the grip of an injury crisis, with key players missing from defence, midfield and attack for Sunday’s game against Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes (kick-off 7.15pm).
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But Reds boss Klopp insists he won’t rush Thiago back – even though he is missing Jordan Henderson from his engine room, while Fabinho is also on his way back to full fitness following a hamstring injury.
“It was a hit, it was a straight kick on his knee, Klopp said of the challenge from Richarlison that resulted in Thiago being sidelined.
“We have to deal with the consequences of injuries and the accidents that happen, fouls, whatever.
“In this game, they were fouls, harsh fouls. If he could have played before [now] he would have played before, but he couldn’t.
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“But he is out there on the pitch, he is running, he is doing a lot of stuff, so it will not be too long any more.”
There were initial fears that Thiago’s injury might have kept him out for much longer, with Virgil van Dijk also having suffered a knee injury in the same game which will sideline the centre-back for most of the season.
But while Klopp said he was relieved his summer signing wasn’t facing a long lay-off, he insisted he will wait until he is fully over his injury before pressing the former Barcelona man back into action.
“In the beginning, because the pictures looked… the same day, we got the horrible pictures from Virgil [van Dijk’s injury] and then we were kind of relieved that it’s not that serious for Thiago,” Klopp said.
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“But it was always clear it will not be in two or three days.
“In the first few days we thought it would settle quickly.
“But it didn’t and that’s what we have to accept then.
“That’s why we will not rush it. We prepare him for the rest of the season, not for the first game he can play again. That’s the situation.”
Klopp is missing three of his first-choice back four for Sunday’s game, with Trent Alexander-Arnold sidelined by a calf problem and Van Dijk and Joe Gomez out with long-term knee injuries. Forward Mohamed Salah is also absent after testing positive for coronavirus while on international duty.
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