Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne has reflected on a “frustrating period” out with a back injury, but is looking ahead after successful surgery.
Clyne is yet to feature for the Reds this season, and played just 45 minutes in their 4-0 pre-season friendly win away to Tranmere Rovers in July.
His absence has remained a mystery for much of the campaign, with Jurgen Klopp reluctant to provide details of Clyne’s injuries.
But it was revealed on Monday evening that the 26-year-old had undergone surgery on a long-term back injury, keeping him out for a further three months.
Clyne is therefore not set to return until February, with Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold primed to alternate as the England international’s deputies.
Their form so far this term has been encouraging, and Gomez earned his first England cap in Friday night’s 0-0 draw with Germany, but Clyne’s comeback would be a big boost for the Reds.
And taking to Twitter on Tuesday morning, the Stockwell native provided a hopeful update on his fitness after surgery.
“Frustrating period for me but hopefully now things are on the up!” he wrote.
“Had a small and successful op and working hard to get back on the pitch.”
Given the extent of his injury, it would be easy to overlook Clyne’s role in Klopp’s defence, with the right-back one of the German’s most consistent players.
No outfielder played more minutes for Liverpool in both 2015/16 (4,661) and 2016/17 (3,616) with Clyne showcasing a remarkable fitness.
Both Gomez and Alexander-Arnold has performed admirably in his stead, with the former providing a similar level of defensive stability after his own injury problems.
But Clyne’s return in 2018 can give the Reds more experience at the back, and the hope is that his layoff hasn’t left him marginalised.
It will take the ex-Crystal Palace and Southampton defender time to find his feet, but Clyne can still play a big role for Liverpool moving forward.
After such a lengthy spell on the sidelines, it is heartening to see the Reds’ No. 2 take such a positive approach to his rehabilitation.
And he can take inspiration from Gomez, whose 13-month absence with an ACL injury has not held him back from making great strides for both club and country since returning last November.