Jurgen Klopp has stressed that Liverpool won’t rush Joe Gomez back after a fractured leg that has kept him sidelined since the start of December.
Gomez required surgery after a robust challenge from Burnley‘s Ben Mee in the 3-1 win at Turf Moor, but returned to first-team training at the end of last month.
The U23s’ clash with Chelsea on Saturday could have been an opportunity for the 21-year-old to get minutes in his legs, but instead he travelled with the senior squad to Southampton.
His comeback is edging closer, but with Joel Matip in fine form alongside Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren back fit and Trent Alexander-Arnold consistent at right-back, there is no need to force him in.
This is the approach Klopp explained when asked on the fitness of his squad ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Porto, also providing updates on Adam Lallana and a potential hint that Gini Wijnaldum could miss out.
“We wanted to have Joe around [in Southampton], not because he’s now 100 percent ready, but because it’s just nice to have him [around],” he said.
“He could be [ready] maybe, but for him it’s better to have more sessions.
“Joe needs that, he’s not long enough in training. If we don’t struggle players-wise, we should not think about Joe. He needs proper training.
“Adam was only a little thing [on Friday], don’t need to talk about that, [it] just kept him out for the weekend and maybe for tomorrow.
“All the rest should be OK, nothing’s bad.
“We had little problems after the game, Gini Wijnaldum [had a] little back problem, Joel I think, even Virgi from when he bounced on the ground, but they should all be OK, hopefully.”
Liverpool will certainly be without Andy Robertson at Anfield, with the left-back suspended after picking up his third yellow card of the tournament last time out.