6 groups, lots of smiles and like a day at school – Inside Liverpool’s return to training

Liverpool players returned to small-group training on Wednesday, with many back at Melwood for the first time since March.

Some players had taken up the option to training individually at the Reds’ training ground last week, but for many this was their first return since the pandemic hit.

Back in March, the players were initially told they would be away from Melwood for just two weeks, but it’s now been over two months since the training ground was temporarily closed on March 13.

The hottest day of the year on Merseyside greeted those arriving back at the West Derby base, with Jurgen Klopp explaining the meticulous planning.

“It felt like the first day at school,” said the boss. “I drove to Melwood and was really happy to see all the boys.”

And with the players arriving in their own kit, sporting their backpacks they too looked like kids arriving at school.

Klopp was an early arrival, alongside assistants Pepijn Lijnders and Peter Krawietz, with the first groups of players arriving soon after.

Measures have been implemented to make Melwood a social-distancing workplace, with one-way routes and players will take their own kit home to be washed.

The goalkeepers worked in their own group, not too dissimilar to regular training, with three more groups of players in the morning and three in the afternoon.

Midfielders Fabinho, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gini Wijnaldum worked together in one group.

Virgil van Dijk, James Milner, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dejan Lovren were in their own group.

Jordan Henderson was joined by Adam Lallana, Naby Keita and Harvey Elliott.

In the afternoon, Neco Williams, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Andy Robertson made up another defenders group.

And finally, the attacking five of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi worked together in the last group of the day.

Xherdan Shaqiri was the only player not involved.

Much of the practices involved passing drills and combination play, overseen by fitness coach Andreas Kornmayer and Lijnders.

“It’s a pre-season for us,” said Klopp.

“Usually our players have two or three weeks’ holiday a year, now they had nine weeks off.

“It was not a holiday but it was nine weeks off. That’s good from one point of view – finally they got a real rest.

“On the other side, of course, you cannot rest when you are worried about the situation in the world, not in the same way like you do on a proper holiday.”

Liverpool haven’t played since March 11, and even if the provisional Premier League date of June 12 was met, that would be 93 days without a game of any kind.

“From a sports science point of view, it is a proper challenge to prepare for something when you don’t know when it will happen,” admitted the boss.

However, Klopp has said he is confident the tempo won’t be lower, highlighting the distances run in Bundesliga’s first matchday back.

“I enjoy these problems much more than the problems I had [with training] in the last few weeks, so it’s our job and we will find a solution for that.

“We prepare for the future; when the future will start, we don’t know yet.”