Jurgen Klopp believes Daniel Sturridge is finally ready to put his injury misery behind him after underlining that the striker remains very much wanted at Liverpool.
The Reds striker is said to be frustrated and unhappy at being singled out for criticism over his long-standing fitness problems, with reports last week suggesting the player was looking for a fresh challenge.
Klopp was quick to deny reports the England striker was heading for the Anfield exit door and also says with confidence that Sturridge is ready to make a lasting comeback after just four starts this season.
“We had to wait for Daniel, and that always sounds like a criticism, but really it is only a description of the situation. Nothing else,” Klopp said.
“Yes, we are hoping that waiting means he is through that period. Everybody hopes this. Daniel hopes it. I hope it.
“That’s absolutely normal. That’s what we tried to do after the last injury.
“When we saw him in training, then yeah, you know why everybody is waiting for him. There are a lot of reasons.”
Sturridge could start at West Ham in the FA Cup fourth-round replay on Tuesday night, with Klopp explaining he must decide which of his three returning players – Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi are also back from injury – he will include in the first XI, and who will be on the bench at Upton Park.
And the manager – who himself made a quicker-than-expected return from appendix surgery on Saturday – believes it is reasonable to hope that the club’s patient attitude will mean the striker can avoid debilitating problems in the future.
He also believes if that happens, then any simmering ill-feeling on either side will soon disappear.
“Everybody knew about it – it was like it was. And now it is like it is. And in this moment, it is thumbs up,” he said.
“Now if it’s possible, don’t let us think about the past, and how it was, maybe now we can start.
“Why shouldn’t it be possible? It’s possible (for him to be injury free). And then everything will be good, and hopefully in one year, we don’t want to talk about this any more.
“I don’t know if it’s realistic, but we will see.”