Jurgen Klopp believes his “difference-maker” Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can remain free from injuries, hailing his impact at Liverpool as “it’s much better when he is here.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has returned to full training at Kirkby almost four months after suffering a knee injury during pre-season training, and Klopp has admitted he may be required “as soon as possible.”
While there were strong signs during his comeback season last time out, the manager believes it is unfair to judge a player based on his previous form – in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s case, an undroppable run in the business end of 2018/19.
But the manager is also “confident” the midfielder will be able to stay fit and work towards his best form again.
“You have to injure yourself once in your life to understand how difficult it is to find everything completely natural, normal again after that,” Klopp told reporters.
“It’s good for my players that I had injuries. I know that, so there’s no time or no rush in it or whatever.
“In training, what Ox did so far, you see his quality immediately. He’s a difference-maker, you can see that.
“Yes, how long you can do that in a game depends on your fitness level; your fitness level depends on the amount of sessions you’ve had before games, before all that stuff.
“Being in the best moment of your career, and being compared with that after coming back after an injury, that’s a real dumb thing to do.
“‘Oh, he’s not that good any more’ – I have no time for that. Ox is an outstanding player, was always, will always be.
“Did he always play perfectly well? No. But he had a few really good games and helped us a lot.
“The longer he can stay without injury, the better he will be, that’s how it is. This time we are pretty confident that we can do that until the end of his career.”
Before he rejoined training on the pitches at Kirkby, Oxlade-Chamberlain was back in the gym, working alongside his team-mates after a long spell out.
Klopp praised him as an “energy-giver” and said “when Ox joins parts of team training again, then everybody gets the benefit of that” as “it’s much better when he is here.”
On the pitch, he has no concerns over the quality Oxlade-Chamberlain can provide – baulking at the suggestion fans may have forgotten exactly what he can offer.
“I think we have enough opportunities on social media or YouTube, whatever, to watch these situations,” he continued.
“If an LFC supporter forgot how good Ox is, my English is not good enough to tell them that.
“But I’m just happy that he’s here again. I don’t think of the speed, the technique, the combination of both, right foot, left foot, all this kind of stuff, can play different positions, played for us different positions, scored goals.
“When he’s finally back – and I don’t know if this weekend is the case or next week or a week later, I don’t know – it’s a big plus for us.”