Running the rule over his Liverpool squad on the first day of pre-season, Jurgen Klopp has vowed that his side “will be stronger” for 2017/18.
The Reds finished fourth in the Premier League last season, ensuring a Champions League play-off clash in August, to determine whether they compete in Europe’s top tier or the Europa League.
This has heightened expectations on Merseyside, and increased the pressure on Klopp’s squad as they prepare for the upcoming campaign.
The likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and summer signing Dominic Solanke were all in training at Melwood on Wednesday, as Klopp oversaw fitness tests.
And the German is looking to use pre-season to steel his squad for the challenge ahead, and believes Liverpool “will be stronger” next term.
“We all know in a few weeks we have these qualifiers and there will be pressure on the game,” he told LFCTV.
“But now we have the time to prepare this and we have to use the basis we created last year—it was not too bad.
“We all know it could have been maybe a little bit better but it could have been much worse.
“We are now one of the top four teams in England last season, so now we want to keep this situation and work with it and improve.
“The squad will be stronger this year than it was last year. That’s a real reason for real optimism.”
The 50-year-old also provided an update on the fitness of those who did report for training in midweek, suggesting everyone took part would be ready for next week’s friendly away to Tranmere Rovers.
“It was a wonderful rest for all of us, absolutely deserved,” he explained.
“I saw the boys this morning and I saw in their faces that they’re ready to go. So I’m ready to go. It’s cool.
“Of course, it’s not what they love most, it’s kind of a weird relationship [with pre-season].
“You don’t want to do it but you know it’s necessary so you do it. You feel bad before and you feel perfect afterwards.
“It’s the first step done. It’s good. It’s important for us to know from which point we can pick them in the next few weeks. They all look pretty much in a good shape.”
After their trip to Prenton Park, the Reds will take on Wigan Athletic on July 14, before heading to Hong Kong to take part in the Premier League Asia Trophy.