Mane and Milner back vs. Norwich as Klopp speaks on benefits of the winter break

Jurgen Klopp has welcomed the benefits of “recovery and recharging” in the winter break, as both Sadio Mane and James Milner return for Liverpool’s trip to Norwich.

The Reds travel to Carrow Road this weekend for a Saturday evening kickoff which pits the runaway league leaders against a bottom-placed side who have taken 18 points from 25 games.

Both sides have now enjoyed the luxury of a two-week break in the Premier League‘s inaugural winter interval, and should head into this clash refreshed.

For Liverpool, the time off provided the squad to refocus, and for Mane and Milner, the opportunity to recover from hamstring injuries that have kept them out of two and five games respectively.

“Of course they are in contention,” Klopp told reporters on Friday.

“It’s clear, when Milly and Sadio are back you start thinking immediately [about using them]. That’s how it is.

“It looks like, and I hope it stays like this, apart from Shaq, Clyne and Glatzel, all players are in training.

“So we have some good options, and hopefully it stays like this; that would be really great for the decisive part of the season.

“But yes, good news, they both trained from Monday on, and they both trained through the last week anyway, so they are in contention.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, December 9, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp has been one of the most vocal advocates of the winter break, owing to his experience in the Bundesliga, and he was asked in his pre-Norwich press conference how his squad have benefited.

“It’s a bit of a pity we have to explain the necessity, or how useful the week’s break is,” he said.

“It was not more than a week, some teams had less, some teams used it for a warm-weather camp, things like this.

“We sent the players all over the world, we wanted them to really rest, and now we had a week [at Melwood].

“Yes I can see a difference in training, but it’s not about seeing a difference in the Norwich game, it’s about really using this time.

“Rest is only one word, it’s recovery, it’s recharging—there are a lot of things starting with ‘re’ that happen in that week.

“That’s why we wanted it, that’s why we fought for it, we made some decisions around it.

“Now the boys are back and we train completely normal. You don’t lose a lot in a week, but you can gain a lot, and that’s why it’s so important.

“But this specific thing is not about the Norwich game, it’s about the rest of the season, and we will see.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 22, 2019: Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson (C) with Andy Robertson and James Milner during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between KRC Genk and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Andy Robertson is one of those to have most notably relished the winter break, with the left-back explaining ahead of the Reds’ 26th league game that the time off had allowed him to rehab a long-term foot injury.

Klopp was questioned on Robertson’s comments on playing through the pain, and he echoed his view that “it’s completely normal for a professional football player.”

“I was a player myself, when I look back it feels like I played through pain 80 percent of the time. Nobody appreciated that because I still played bad!” he joked.

“It’s completely normal for a professional football player that you have to play through pain, that’s how it is.

“I think I said it last year when Hendo got a knock in the Barcelona game, and it looked like it could maybe not be possible to carry on; at half-time I look at him and he said ‘it’s only pain’.

“These are the words we use most of the time: it’s only pain it’s not an injury. But it’s still pain, and it distracts you and disturbs you, and all this stuff.

“So I know for Robbo it was very important, because it was his left foot which is the only useful foot for him actually! Now it’s much better, that’s good.

“After that long period, after December and January, there was no player in the squad who had no pain, not any pain somewhere.

“Everybody had something, but for Robbo it’s true, it was very important that we had this week, because he looks different now.”