Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson were left out of Liverpool’s pre-season closer on Saturday as a precaution.
The duo were among a host of key players absent for the flight to Dublin, which saw the Reds beat Liga side Athletic Bilbao 3-1 at the Aviva Stadium.
It took time for Klopp’s side to find fluency, but goals from Roberto Firmino, Ben Woodburn and Dominic Solanke ensured a positive end to the summer.
Clouding Liverpool’s trip to the Republic of Ireland, however, was a long-term layoff for Adam Lallana, while Coutinho and Henderson joined Nathaniel Clyne and Daniel Sturridge on the sidelines.
But speaking after the victory over Bilbao, Klopp gave a hopeful verdict on the fitness of his midfield pair.
“Everybody knows about the injury of Adam Lallana, it’s a big blow,” he told reporters.
“But this team deals with so many difficult situations and they will deal with this.
“Phil had back problems yesterday and today so there was no reason for any risks, the same with Hendo. He was a little bit ill, so we said ‘OK, no risk today’.
“Daniel, of course, has a little muscle [problem], but the squad is big and I thought I saw today that a few boys really showed up.”
The performances of Woodburn, Solanke and Ryan Kent were particularly encouraging in the absence of Klopp’s more high-profile names.
And with Liverpool fighting on four fronts in 2017/18, as they bid to return to the Champions League in this month’s play-off clash with Hoffenheim, they will need a big squad to compete.
Klopp continued to explain that this would involve careful rotation over the course of the season, beginning with next Saturday’s Premier League opener at Watford.
“We’ll manage it when we can manage it. We will rotate, that’s clear,” he added.
“That’s not my problem at the moment, I’ll prepare for the Watford game from tomorrow on.
“And then the next game, and then the next game, and then I’ll think about how we can do this.”
Suffering a raft of injuries before the season kicks off is certainly disheartening for the Reds, with Clyne and Lallana the most concerning at this stage.
But with Henderson and Coutinho likely to come back into the fold in the coming days, and Sturridge targeting a return to full training next week, Klopp’s options will be boosted.