Joe Gomez‘s return to first-team training has gone well, according to Jurgen Klopp, but he now must adjust to Liverpool’s tactical outlook.
Gomez spent a year on the sidelines with an ACL injury, and returned to the training field at Melwood in November.
This saw him take part in a behind-closed-doors friendly victory over Accrington Stanley during the international break, providing Klopp with his first glimpse of Gomez’s talents firsthand.
Addressing Gomez’s transition back into first-team football on Thursday morning, Klopp stressed that the 19-year-old must be given time to adapt.
“He’s good. But there’s absolutely no rush. We should stay cool,” he said.
“I’m really happy to have him back. It was the first time I’ve seen him in a match live.
“It wasn’t the most difficult game for a centre-half, but he did well.
“Training is good, now we have to work on the tactical things. For this he’ll have match time, I don’t know when we’ll start this.
“He’s a really physical talent, he’s in really good shape but we want him for the long term. The education starts now.”
At 19, Gomez is in the perfect position for Klopp to mould him in his vision of a top-level centre-back, developing within the German’s defensive system.
Crucially, Klopp clearly sees Gomez turning out as a centre-back immediately, having filled in at left-back in his first months at the club under Brendan Rodgers, before injury struck.
In the long term, Gomez swells Klopp’s options at the back, joining Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva, with Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori left in the Liverpool U23s squad.
He could be earmarked for his first outing in the new year, with Liverpool set to take part in the FA Cup third round in January, providing a solid test of his credentials.
But Klopp won’t be rushing Gomez back into his starting lineup, and with Matip and Lovren performing well as a duo, there is no need to.