Jurgen Klopp has cast doubt over Adam Lallana‘s return from injury for Liverpool’s crucial top-four clash at home to Tottenham on Sunday.
Lallana has missed the last two games as he continues to struggle for fitness following a long-term thigh injury which has seen him start just twice this term.
The midfielder’s last outing as part of Klopp’s starting lineup will be just under a month to the day when the Reds take on Spurs at Anfield this weekend.
And the German is not willing to rush his No. 20 back into the fold in order to avoid further setbacks.
“It’s really unlucky. It was a really serious injury in the summer,” he told LiverpoolFC.com.
“Because of Adam’s quality and attitude in training, it looks immediately like we can put him in, [but] physical-wise he’s not fit.
“The two things that happened after his big injury were in the 10 or 15 minutes after he came on. From nil to 100 in a second, and that’s maybe what caused the problem.
“We really tried to be sensible with it, to do the right thing. But it didn’t work, twice.
“It’s really not a big thing, three games is like not being injured. He’s maybe available for Tottenham, and if not then he’ll have missed three games.
“That’s really OK but of course it’s not cool. The body needs to adapt again to the intensity.”
Klopp has continually referenced Lallana as a candidate to replace Philippe Coutinho in his side—not stylistically, but in terms of providing another quality option.
But it seems his initial desire to include him in the Brazilian’s absence has prolonged his spell on the sidelines.
Lallana started two games in four days at the start of January, in the back-to-back 2-1 wins over Burnley and Everton, and has played just 22 minutes of football since.
With Spurs’ trip to Merseyside likely coming too soon, Klopp could hand Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a return to the lineup, having shuffled his pack for Tuesday night’s 3-0 win at Huddersfield.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been in encouraging form since his £35 million move from Arsenal at the end of the summer transfer window, as is arguably the most suitable alternative to Coutinho.
James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Emre Can and Jordan Henderson will also be vying for starting roles in Klopp’s midfield on Sunday, with Liverpool’s options increasing.