Klopp details plan to “put on the brakes” and get Naby Keita “100 percent fit”

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Jurgen Klopp is taking a cautious approach to Naby Keita‘s frustrating run of injuries, with the Liverpool manager “putting on the brakes” with his midfielder’s recovery.

Keita’s entire spell at Anfield so far has been marred by injury, with the Guinean yet to produce an extended run of form to justify the £52.75 million paid to sign him from RB Leipzig.

It is through no fault of the player’s own, of course, with Keita’s body letting him down time and again, but this has left him an unreliable option for Klopp.

The manager retains faith in the midfielder who inherited Steven Gerrard’s No. 8 shirt, though, and with Thiago, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri back fit, he feels comfortable with allowing him time to rest and recover fully.

That means Keita is “not ready for involvement” against Man United on Sunday, with Klopp instead detailing a longer-term plan to improve the 25-year-old’s fitness in general.

“No, Naby’s not ready for involvement,” the manager told reporters on Friday.

“Not a big thing, but it’s a little bit like other players in the past when they came back from injuries and, because of the amount of games, because of the situation in the squad, they have to play, then a little injury happened again.

“So now we just have to put on the brakes and say ‘come on, now let’s settle it properly’.

“In the moment, we have alternatives in midfield, so we really try to give him all the time he needs to get 100 percent fit.

“That’s the situation. No, he’s not in contention for Sunday.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 22, 2020: Liverpool’s Naby Keita goes off with an injury past manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Liverpool’s medical staff are able to nurse Keita back to 100 percent fitness, it could aid the midfielder in the long run as he looks to establish himself as a dependable figure on Merseyside.

As Klopp attests, the increase in options – despite both Fabinho and Jordan Henderson being required to fill in at centre-back – has afforded this luxury.

Beyond Henderson, Thiago, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Shaqiri, Gini Wijnaldum, Curtis Jones, James Milner and Takumi Minamino are all available in the middle of the park, while youngsters Leighton Clarkson and Jake Cain are knocking on the door.

Keita’s injuries have seen him drop down that pecking order, but with Wijnaldum and Shaqiri both potentially leaving in the summer and Milner having turned 35 this month, there remains hope for his future.

The key to sustaining his place at Liverpool is in proving his fitness, and Klopp and Keita will have their fingers crossed that this spell on the treatment table finally solves his problem.

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