Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool now have to work hard in training as he ponders throwing Sadio Mane back into the action against Chelsea.
The Reds face Chelsea on Tuesday, in what will be their ninth game in a hectic January, desperate to bounce back after three home defeats on the spin.
In contrast, Klopp’s men have just three games in February and the German boss is adamant he will use the spare time to work hard on the training field.
“If we only do bull**** in training it won’t help. But we’ll work on things. We have to use the time,” said Klopp, who admits he will “look into the eyes” of Mane to determine whether he features against Chelsea at Anfield.
Mane is on his way back from Gabon after his Senegal side were ousted from the competition after losing on penalties to Cameroon.
The club sent a private jet to Gabon on Sunday following Senegal’s exit from the competition but the issues with the flight delayed his arrival back home until the evening, therefore meaning he missed team training.
Liverpool will have another session on Tuesday and Klopp will have to decide then whether to include the player, at best as a substitute, who was distraught after missing the critical penalty in a 5-4 shoot-out quarter-final defeat.
“I don’t know exactly [if he will be involved],” said Klopp. “When he’s back here I need to look into his eyes and see what is possible.
“He’s now on his way, we thought it would be possible yesterday. We had a plane there yesterday, but he wasn’t allowed. He had to wait.
“Now it’s all good, he will be here this night at some point. I spoke to him, it’s all good so far. He’ll be in tomorrow morning, I have no idea. I have to look in his eyes, then make a decision.”
There’s no doubt that Liverpool, who have won just one game since his departure at the start of the month, have missed him.
“He’s a quality player. It’s easier if we have him in the team,” added Klopp.
“It’s not that he can decide games by himself. It’s a strange situation in the Senegal game against Cameroon.
“I wish he hadn’t missed the penalty but he did and now he’s coming back. He’s kind of an option for Chelsea. We have to see. At least for the Hull game, that’s good for us, we have a very good player back for selection, it’s only good news. Nothing else.
“We came through December and January without (Philppe) Coutinho. I don’t want to think too much about the last few games. It’s enough work to do to think about the next few games. We have to decide whether we can involve him tomorrow or not.”
Klopp did have some good news regarding Adam Lallana, who is fit to face Chelsea.
“Lallana is training, Clyne not. Adam is fine for selection. Clyny we have to see. We would love to force it, but we have to wait.
“He did a running session yesterday. It’s about adapting through the pain level. If there’s a risk to make it worse, we cannot take this risk,” said Klopp, who refused to comment on whether the Premier League was Chelsea’s to lose.
“I can say nothing about Chelsea’s position, we have to keep these points here. If they lose here and win the rest, they are probably the champions.
“They are in a good moment, but that means something, but not everything. We lost a few games we should have won, a lot of people think it could be different. Who wants to help is welcome,” said Klopp.
Biggest factor behind Liverpool’s struggles?
The Anfield boss did though accept that “a lot of teams” would be hoping for a Liverpool win when he was asked what a victory over Antonio Conte’s men would mean.
“Three points. A lot of teams in the league are on our side to win.
“That doesn’t happen too often. They’re doing an outstanding job. Even they left the Capital One Cup before we did.
“It’s really important that we don’t see it, if we lose, as the fourth game in a row… Even if we’d won the last 10 games in a row, it would not mean we are more likely to beat Chelsea. We try everything to keep the points in Liverpool,” added Klopp.