Liverpool have an expanding list of players currently sidelined through injury, and Jurgen Klopp will not rush them back – as Jordan Henderson‘s management has shown.
Henderson started Tuesday night’s Champions League clash with Midtjylland, but was brought off at half-time as Gini Wijnaldum took his place, with the Reds going on to win 2-0.
Having not taken part in pre-season training due to a knee injury that ruled him out for two months, the captain is still being managed carefully.
He has only completed the full 90 minutes twice and not played longer than 45 in three of his six outings so far this season, which has seen the likes of James Milner and Curtis Jones start in his place.
Given the increasing amount of fitness concerns among the Liverpool squad this season – with Fabinho adding to the number with a hamstring blow against Midtjylland – there was concern over whether Henderson’s mid-game withdrawal was injury-related.
But speaking after the game, Klopp confirmed that it was a pre-planned substitution, with both Henderson and Wijnaldum available to start against West Ham on Saturday.
“We had to make the change at half-time with Hendo,” he told BT Sport.
“Hendo said, ‘I’m fine, I can carry on’, but in these moments you have to be responsible, show responsibility, and just say the plan before the game was 45-45, so now they should both be ready for West Ham.”
Beyond long-term absentees Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho has joined Joel Matip, Thiago and Kostas Tsimikas as immediate concerns among the first-team squad.
While none of that trio is believed to be far from fitness, Klopp’s assessment of the situation in his post-match press conference indicated that they would not be rushed back.
“The players who are now injured, we cannot use them on the first day of being fit again, or not injured anymore,” he explained.
“They need a proper buildup for the rest of the season, that’s what we try.
“And it’s this juggle all the time between the fit players, how much can they play, and when can we use the others again.
“We are really interested in that fact, so you can imagine we try everything to make everybody fit as quick as possible.”
Liverpool await the results of a scan to determine the extent of Fabinho‘s hamstring issue, though it is hoped that the problem is not a major one, and will only keep the Brazilian out for a matter of weeks.
BT Sport also pulled up footage of Mohamed Salah limping down the tunnel at full-time at Anfield, but there is no indication at this stage that the No. 11 has suffered anything other than discomfort following a late challenge.