Diogo Jota is said to be making “good progress” in his recovery from a knee injury picked up this month, with the Liverpool forward tipped to be back in January.
Jota was ruled out for six to eight weeks after suffering knee ligament damage in the 1-1 draw with Midtjylland in the Champions League, and has so far missed the last five games.
The worst-case scenario was set out to be a return for the clash with Leicester, currently scheduled for February 13, or the last-16 first leg at RB Leipzig on February 16.
But it appears Jota’s comeback may be earlier on the timescale, with a return to action before the end of January mooted as the 24-year-old makes “good progress.”
That is according to The Athletic‘s James Pearce, who has assessed the club’s injury situation on the arrival of new head of recovery and performance Andreas Schlumberger from Schalke.
A six-week layoff would see Jota able to return as early as the FA Cup fourth round – provided Liverpool progress beyond their third-round meeting with Aston Villa on January 8 – which is due to be held on the weekend on January 23/24.
More likely, though, looks to be either the trip to Tottenham on January 27 or West Ham on January 30, with Jurgen Klopp seemingly in need of another potent forward option as soon as possible.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all failed to fire in Wednesday night’s 0-0 draw with Newcastle, with glaring misses from Salah in particular highlighting the need for a game-changing substitute in attack.
Jota proved himself to be that and more in his first months with the Reds, scoring nine goals in 17 appearances including one in each of his first four league games at Anfield – becoming the first player to do so in the club’s top-flight history.
While it would be remiss to count his chickens before they hatch, it would seem that the injury situation is improving for Klopp, despite the recent setback for Joel Matip.
Thiago, James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri all returned to action against Newcastle, with Klopp admitting that the “best news” from the game was that “the boys are back” and “nobody got injured.”
Along with the good news on Jota, Pearce adds that Naby Keita “isn’t far off” and that Kostas Tsimikas is “working to a similar timescale” to the Portuguese – though this was already common knowledge and may not be an indication of a late-January return.
Further injuries are likely, of course, but the hope would be that, with Matip also due back in around three weeks, the only absentees come the start of February will be Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.