Jurgen Klopp has predicted Liverpool will not be back to “100 percent” until after the Premier League fixtures resume, with the return to training “like a pre-season.”
The Reds have reported back to Melwood in the searing heat as small group sessions were permitted to begin again, while social-distancing measures are observed.
Klopp and Pepijn Lijnders were among the first to head into the training ground on Wednesday morning, and with preliminary fitness tests already having been conducted the squad kicked off with fitness and ball work.
In many ways, after such a long period off, this is akin to the early days of a typical pre-season, albeit at an accelerated rate, as Liverpool aim to get back up to speed before the top flight restarts.
When that will be is unclear, though it is likely either the weekend of June 12 or June 19, but either way, Klopp believes the Reds will not be at their best until at least the third game back.
“It’s a pre-season for us. We don’t know how long and we will not have test games or friendlies, not really,” he told the club’s official website.
“Maybe we can organise it between us when we are allowed to, but it will not be the same like in other pre-seasons. But, no, it’s a pre-season.
“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.
“But it’s the situation and we have to make sure, and we will—we already did the testing, so we know how fit the players are or how fit the individual player is—and then work from that.
“That is like it is in a pre-season. Then we have to make sure we are as fit as possible for the first match; even for the second; and probably, 100 percent, for the third.
“Or whatever, it depends how long we will get.”
Klopp described the first sessions back as “absolutely perfect,” as the squad retrain the “little things” that are lost with an extended spell out of practice.
He noted that this ‘pre-season’ is likely to benefit the next campaign as much as the one already underway, as he anticipates a much shorter break between seasons than usual.
“Today we started with training, good things, not the highest intensity but the boys look in good shape,” he said.
“We don’t know exactly how long we have, but we have some time to prepare the rest of this season and already the next season because I don’t think there will be a massive break between the two.
“We don’t know exactly but we should prepare for a rather shorter break between the two seasons. It means that’s our training period, so use it.”