Thiago Alcantara has provided Jurgen Klopp with a much needed boost, though the latest Liverpool injury update was far from all positive.
Countless theories have been put forward to explain Liverpool’s sluggish start to the season. The most obvious is their midfield injury crisis which has deprived Klopp of the ability to rotate his options in the centre.
The injuries have also removed his most creative midfielder – Thiago Alcantara – from the equation.
The classy Spaniard suffered a hamstring injury during the opening weekend draw with Fulham. A month on, the Athletic’s James Pearce provided an update that will be greeted with grins on Merseyside.
Pearce was present at Liverpool’s open training session in Kirkby on Tuesday. He tweeted Thiago was present and ‘looking sharp’ during his return to ‘full training’.
Whether Thiago will be considered for selection against Napoli on Wednesday night isn’t yet clear. What is evident, however, is that Liverpool will be without five other midfielders for the tie.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita were both left out of Liverpool’s UCL squad for the group stages. That is an indication their injury lay-offs are long-term.
Liverpool injury update provides mixed news
Elsewhere, the Mirror reported captain Jordan Henderson isn’t likely to return until after the next international break.
Henderson has suffered a hamstring injury and isn’t due to return until the Reds’ league clash with Brighton on October 1.
That means he could miss four matches in total – Napoli and Ajax in the Champions League, and Brighton and Chelsea in the Premier League.
Pearce provided more news on the injury front straight from Kirkby. He added Curtis Jones and Fabio Carvalho both weren’t spotted in group training.
Previous reports claimed Jones is sidelined with a calf injury, though Pearce claimed he’s ‘unsure’ what the issue actually was.
Jones is seemingly now over whatever was ailing him, though lacks match fitness and as such, was overlooked for selection against Everton on Saturday.
Carvalho, meanwhile, was forced off against the Toffees. His absence from training would strongly suggest he won’t feature in Naples on Wednesday.
Thiago return vital
The Reds have already dropped nine points from a possible 18 this season.
Pundits are already suggesting the Reds aren’t title contenders, though the 14-point deficit they erased last term shows Klopp’s men can never be discounted.
However, what is clear is Liverpool cannot afford to drop too many more points between now and the World Cup.
Thiago’s return will be a big boost in that regard. The Reds have topped their opponents in the xG (expected goals) statistic in each of their opening six matches, though are struggling to convert.
Thiago’s creativity will help to ensure that trend doesn’t change. Klopp will also hope the higher quality of chances he’ll provide can spark his forwards into life.
The Spaniard’s ability to control the tempo and retain possession for longer periods will also aid the defensive aspect.
Liverpool have had a kind start to the season on paper that included two newly-promoted clubs (Fulham, Bournemouth), two mid-table teams (Crystal Palace, Newcastle), and two clashes against rivals who were out of form at the time (Man Utd and Everton).
Yet only two clean sheets have been kept in that run. Thiago’s return can’t come a moment too soon.