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Jon Flanagan to boost Liverpool with return to full training next week

After 18 months on the sidelines with a knee injury, Jon Flanagan is set to make his long-awaited return to full training next week.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 15, 2013: Liverpool's Jon Flanagan celebrates scoring the third goal against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Flanagan played a key role in Liverpool’s title-challenging campaign in 2013/14, operating at left-back in Brendan Rodgers’ back four.

But after undergoing surgery on a knee problem at the end of that season, the versatile defender has missed a year and a half of action.

The Reds have since signed Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno to reinforce their full-back ranks, but the return of Flanagan will provide new manager Jurgen Klopp with welcome cover.

The Liverpool-born talent is set to return to full training next week after a successful recovery, according to James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo.

This marks a significant milestone for Flanagan, after appearing in Steven Gerrard’s charity all-star game in March.

The 22-year-old played half an hour at Anfield that day, but will now be hoping to earn a spot in Klopp’s first-team squad for competitive outings.

Klopp welcomed Flanagan’s return as his squad begins to flesh out, suggesting that this would ensure a quiet January on Merseyside.

“I don’t feel we have to look at other people just because they cost £20 million,” he explained on Friday.

“Flanno will come back in next week. Then we’ll have two full-backs left, two right.”

But with Flanagan’s contract set to expire at the end of the season, he faces a major test to prove his credentials under a new manager.

An aggressive, defensive-minded full-back, Flanagan could fit in within Klopp’s new Reds regime.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, December 10, 2015: Liverpool's Brad Smith in action against FC Sion's Vincent Ruefli during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at Stade de Tourbillon. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

His return to full training will give Klopp the opportunity to assess his talents first hand, and Flanagan will be buoyed by the German’s approach to a former academy team-mate, Brad Smith.

Smith has made two appearances under Klopp so far, after signing a new deal with the club in November—ending a miserable summer of contract purgatory.

Klopp’s influence was key to Smith renewing his terms, and the former Borussia Dortmund manager believes the Australian international can be a useful player for the Reds.

“You know it was a difficult story with him and when I first came he wasn’t here,” he said.

“I saw a few videos and in training and he’s a good boy—very fast.

“He put in a perfect cross against Sion, which on that ground wasn’t easy. He can get better in everything but he’s a good boy and I like to work with him.”

In Flanagan, Smith, Moreno, Clyne and Connor Randall, Liverpool’s full-back options are now in good shape.

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