Gini Wijnaldum feels the training programme given to the Liverpool squad while in lockdown has ensured he is “ready” to return to full fitness at Melwood.
The Dutchman reported back to the training ground along with his team-mates on Wednesday morning, after all 20 clubs voted to follow through with phase one of government safety protocols.
Players will initially begin non-contact training in groups of five, with another meeting set for May 26 to determine how and when to move on to full-contact sessions.
Only six of the 748 players and staff tested for coronavirus so far returned positive—with Norwich yet to receive their results—which is an encouraging sign for the top flight.
But there remain reservations over the time it will take for players to regain their fitness, having worked alone for an extended period, ahead of the possible resumption of fixtures as early as June 12.
Hello, @GWijnaldum ?? pic.twitter.com/YwsnFncexh
— Liverpool FC (at ?) (@LFC) May 20, 2020
Speaking to the club’s official website prior to Liverpool’s return to training, however, Wijnaldum insisted he is “ready” and confident sharpness can be restored swiftly.
“Every time we do training the fitness team is looking at how we did and how fit we are, so everything is looking good,” he said.
“But of course it’s different when you are on the pitch and when you are playing with a team, different intensity and everything.
“So I think I am ready for it but we always have to see how ready and how far we are in our fitness. But that’s something for later.
“We are really happy that we can go on the pitch, play with each other and do the nice stuff because that’s what you miss the most and from there you can work to all the other things.”
As Wijnaldum attests, the mental boost of working alongside team-mates again is as important as the ability to work towards preparing for game situations again.
A lengthy period in lockdown means the squad have been unable to connect beyond WhatsApp and Zoom, and now they will be able to interact again in person, albeit from a safe distance.
“To see them in person and talk to them and have a laugh, that is something different,” the No. 5 continued.
“So we all look forward to going back and to play football with each other.
“I think that’s the thing that we miss the most because now we had to train alone and we couldn’t do that much.
“But hopefully we can do more and we can play together instead of alone so we are really looking forward to doing things as a team again.”