(Reuters) - Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp is looking forward to being able to send Adam Lallana out to lead his midfield press again, but will resist the temptation to rush the England international back into action after his long injury layoff.
Lallana has not played since injuring his thigh in a pre-season game against Atletico Madrid in August, but has been back in training this week and shown no sign of any lingering effects from his spell on the sidelines, Klopp said.
Liverpool, fifth in the table and on a three-game winning run in all competitions, also have captain Jordan Henderson fit to face Southampton in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday, but will take a late call on wide forward Sadio Mane.
“Adam is in training since three days, four days,” Klopp told a news conference on Friday. “It’s fantastic that he’s back and he’s lost nothing, no skills or anything.
“He trained really well but in the next few weeks we have games all three days and we need him for that, so there’s no rushing it, even when everybody who knows Adam can imagine how ready he is to be part of the squad again.”
Mane aggravated a hamstring injury while on duty with Senegal but is likely to be fit for the visit of 13th-placed Southampton, while Henderson, who sat out the international break, is set to return to Liverpool’s midfield.
“Hendo should be okay,” Klopp added. “He used the week he had, the international break, to recover from different things, but now he’s in a good way and he will be involved. Sadio we have to wait. We will see today.”
Lallana’s willingness to lead the “counter-pressing” style that Liverpool employ under Klopp makes him a crucial component in the German’s midfield, but the manager will use him with caution.
“He’s very important... What Adam is doing is so different. For pretty much all the other players, he is the jumper (who starts the press),” Klopp said. “He loves to do that and, of course, it’s very important and will be again very important for us.
“He’s a fantastic player but... this is the moment now when the player wants to be back immediately and I’m the bad guy who says ‘not today, maybe tomorrow’.
“We will use him for sure, but bring him now for 90 minutes? Absolutely, no. Not a good idea and will not happen.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis