Liverpool U23s manager Neil Critchley has provided an update on the fitness of Nathaniel Clyne after the right-back’s return against Stoke City.
Clyne made his first appearance in seven months in the young Reds’ Premier League Cup trip to St George’s Park, lining up as part of Critchley’s back four.
Alongside Joe Gomez, George Johnston and Tony Gallacher, Clyne helped keep a clean sheet in a 4-0 victory that saw Liverpool through to the last 16.
He had been expected to play just 45 minutes, having been sidelined since June with hamstring and back problems, but Clyne ultimately remained on the field for the full 90.
Speaking to LiverpoolFC.com after the game, Critchley explained how the 26-year-old repeatedly turned down the opportunity to be replaced, confident in his fitness.
“He has not played for seven months and the plan was to see how long he would go for,” he said.
“He kept putting his thumb up and saying he was OK. He obviously wanted to see out the 90 minutes, which was great for him.
“I thought he was a great example to our players in the way he managed himself during the game, as well as Joe Gomez.”
Liverpool have taken no risks with Clyne following his successful back surgery in November, remaining cautious in his return to full training at Melwood.
But he rejoined the group earlier this month, and was named in the Reds’ revised Champions League squad for the knockout stages, though he is unlikely to feature before the quarter-finals.
Klopp’s side are next in action on Saturday, taking on Newcastle United at Anfield, but the U23s play before then, at home to Porto in the Premier League International Cup on Wednesday night.
Clyne is eligible to feature, and could be included again if Klopp deems it too early to consider him for senior games.
Given both Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold are fit and firing, there is no need to bring Clyne back before he is fully fit and recaptures his sharpness.
But Critchley’s assessment is a positive one, with Liverpool’s No. 2 back on form.