SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2016: Liverpool's new captan Jon Flanagan in action against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jon Flanagan must “build a base” of fitness before regular football – Klopp

Jurgen Klopp has revealed why Jon Flanagan has featured so sporadically since his return from injury this season, saying he must continue to work on his fitness.

Flanagan has made just six appearances for the first team since recovering from a long-term knee injury, with a further 180 minutes over three games with the Liverpool U21s.

With Klopp preferring Connor Randall to the 23-year-old in last weekend’s 2-2 draw at home to Newcastle United, many questioned Flanagan’s absence.

But speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon, Klopp explained that Flanagan must work to “build a base” of fitness before featuring regularly in his first team.

“Flanno is in a situation—it’s not too easy to explain—that [means] he cannot train all the time,” he said.

“When you’re out for this long period, you can’t train all the time [and] you can’t build a base—that’s all.

“It’s a little bit similar, different story, to what I said about Daniel [Sturridge] with the long injury breaks.

“If we want to help him, we need to work on his physical resistance so that he is ready for more than one game and then two or three days recovery or something – it’s not how it should work.

“That’s what we try to do.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 25, 2016: Liverpool's Jon Flanagan warming up before the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After 619 days out with a series of knee problems, Flanagan’s slow transition back into life in the Liverpool squad is understandable.

Struggling to maintain full fitness during the rigours of Liverpool’s 2015/16 schedule suggests that Flanagan needs more time to recover, and Klopp is wise to offer him that.

Having pushed for a new contract for the academy product, and named him as captain in the Reds’ 3-2 loss to Southampton in March, it is clear that Klopp is an admirer of Flanagan’s talents.

Therefore, the German is taking a similar stance to that which he has taken with Daniel Sturridge.

Sturridge was left out of Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday night, leading to criticism from large sections of the support.

But Klopp explained that “everything is too intense” to expect the No. 15 to play week in, week out after his own injury nightmare.

Taking a long-term view to both Sturridge and Flanagan, Klopp’s search for sustainability should ultimately pay off.

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