Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara could return to full training next week but manager Jurgen Klopp will not rush him back.
The Spain international played just one-and-a-half games after his September arrival from Bayern Munich before a knee injury against Everton in October sidelined him.
He has been pencilled in for a comeback in early January and Klopp said he remains on course for that.
“We already made jokes here that we should sign Thiago for January,” said the Reds boss. “He gets closer and closer and is in a good way but we will not rush it, we cannot rush it and he will not because he is not allowed to rush it.
“But of course it’s nice having him on the pitch training, doing a lot of stuff, but he was not in team training yet and that is actually the final step.
“We will see how it is. We get (a look) at him on the pitch and then next week, can he be in team training? I don’t know at the moment 100 per cent, a few tests he has to pass until we make that decision.
“Hopefully that is not only the case (for him), with (James) Milner it will be similar, with Shaq (Xherdan Shaqiri) it will be similar.”
Klopp asks 10 clubs to explain
Meanwhile, Klopp was asked his feelings after Premier League clubs once again voted against the introduction of five substitutes.
There have been two previous votes on allowing five substitutes this season which have also failed to gain a sufficient majority, after clubs did agree to make the change for the conclusion of the 2019-20 season last summer.
And again the motion, backed by the FA, failed to achieve the required 14-club majority in a vote at a Premier League shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.
The clubs have though agreed to increase the number of substitutes allowed on the bench from seven to nine, which was the case for the end of the 2019-20 campaign as well.
“I don’t think it’s a compromise. I don’t want to create headlines – everybody knows my thoughts,” said Klopp. “You have to ask the clubs. 10 clubs voted against it, it was not about advantages, only about player welfare.
“I don’t know which other leagues only have three subs. Here is the only league – the Championship decided differently – pretty much.
“There must be a good reason for it. Every club wants to stay in the league and some want to win the league.
“But here [England] is pretty much the only league to do it differently.
“It’s not me to give an answer. Ask the others and I will try and catch up with all the articles you do about that.”