Alisson Becker made a welcome return between the sticks at the weekend and has explained his determination to make a comeback far earlier than anticipated.
The goalkeeper was thought to be sidelined for at least another three weeks initially, with the Manchester City game in November pencilled in as a target if he stayed ahead of target.
But in the end Ali missed just three games – Villa, Everton and Ajax – before returning well ahead of schedule.
Our No. 1 says the injury was to a shoulder ligament which he still feels, but doesn’t “put limits” on his style of play – and he remarkably says that he told the club medical staff to cut down his recovery period time and then set about achieving it.
“It’s good to be back, I’m really happy,” he said at the pre-Midtjylland press conference.
“I have the top physios on my side to accelerate the recovery process. But as soon as the doctor told me it was four-to-six weeks, I told him ‘no, doc, we go to two or three weeks maximum’.
“He agreed and we go for it and I’m happy to be back. I just want to thank the physios, fitness staff, doctor and goalie coaches who helped me on this process”
Alisson explained how, for all players, being out injured is the worst aspect of all and, as such, it made even a short absence feel like a longer one because of how quickly the games are coming.
“Unfortunately we have to deal with these things; injuries, we try to avoid them and do prevention works. I’m glad it was only three weeks but it was a long three weeks, [more] like three months.
“It’s hard because you want to help, want to be involved, do what you love to do and help your team-mates go for our goals.”
As well as referring to his faith, Alisson says he was “every day for five or six hours” doing rehab work at Melwood.
“After two weeks I was doing catching with the goalie coaches, then on two and a half weeks I started to dive, then three days before the match I start to work hard with shooting, kicks, catching, full-range diving. On Friday I gave the green light to the boss.”
That fastrack journey back culminated in Ali taking his place for the Anfield match against Sheffield United – and now for his first Champions League appearance since the first leg against Atletico Madrid last season, as he missed the Anfield return and our subsequent exit.
If the Brazilian lands a second clean sheet of the season on Tuesday night, the Reds will likely be taking another big step toward securing progression from the group stage already.