Liverpool have been given a pre-Merseyside derby boost with Daniel Sturridge’s return to training – but the chances of captain Jordan Henderson making the visit of Everton are unlikely.
Sturridge has not featured since February 4 because of a virus, which forced him to be sent home from the training camp in Spain last month, and then a hip injury, which meant he missed the club’s trip to Tenerife last week.
However, the England international was pictured taking part in an outdoor session at the club’s Melwood training ground on Thursday to raise hopes of him making the squad for the 228th Merseyside derby.
Henderson’s prospects are less encouraging though. The Reds captain has not played since the February 11 victory over Tottenham because of a foot problem.
Although he did travel to the Canary Islands with the squad his involvement was limited and Press Association Sport understands he is highly unlikely to be ready to face Liverpool’s near-neighbours in the lunchtime kick-off.
Brazil internationals Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino returned home reporting no problems after the club chartered a private jet to bring back the pair immediately after the World Cup qualifying win over Paraguay.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has yet to be on the losing side in seven Merseyside derbies and admits he enjoys the hostility of the occasion.
The Belgium goalkeeper has conceded just one goal in the last three home games against Everton, whose last win in the fixture came at Goodison Park in October 2010, and is eagerly anticipating Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off at Anfield.
“It’s always a bit hostile, but like in any other derby game that’s something you relish – two groups of fans who are cheering their team on,” the Belgian is quoted on liverpoolfc.com.
“It’s a bit special, of course, in Liverpool because in some families you have got both Everton and Liverpool supporters.
“Although it’s a derby I don’t think there is so much hatred between the two clubs.
“In the time I’ve been here, we’ve always had great results against Everton at home.
“It’s always a big fixture to look forward to. On the day itself, it’s nice to be part of it. It is pretty special.”
Liverpool plan to honour the memory of Ronnie Moran at the weekend.
The former captain, coach and caretaker manager died aged 83 last week and among the tributes will be a mural on the Kop.