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Thiago ‘in contention’ for first Liverpool start since October vs. Southampton

Thiago is “in contention” to start the clash at Southampton, with Jurgen Klopp relishing the opportunity to call upon his star signing after his return from injury.

The Spaniard’s return to the matchday squad at Newcastle, where he went on to play 17 minutes, was a welcome boost for Liverpool after a tough few months of navigating injuries.

Thiago, in the end, could not steer the Reds to a victory at St James’ Park but he did show the qualities which fans have been craving to see on the regular since he signed in the summer.

COVID-19 and a knee injury sustained in the Merseyside derby in October has disrupted his ability to slot into the team, playing a total of just 152 minutes across three appearances.

The 29-year-old was a breath of fresh air in his short cameo in midweek, pulling the strings and twice setting up moves which ought to have seen Liverpool leave with all three points.

And the hope now will be that Thiago can kick on and swiftly become a regular option at Klopp’s disposal, where there is a chance he could make his first start since October when the Reds travel to Southampton on Monday evening.

He has had limited time to build back his match fitness and having only known him for a few months, Klopp is still in the world of the unknown as to how Thiago‘s body and mind will react to his first taste of action and if a start is possible at St Mary’s.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know him that long, a few months only, so I don’t know exactly,” Klopp said of Thiago‘s chances of starting.

“Even if I would like to answer the question I don’t know exactly what to say.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 30, 2020: Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara warms-up at half-time as manager Jürgen Klopp looks on during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“We see that he could play tonight, 20 minutes, is pretty special, I would say, because [he had] only two sessions with the team – that’s it.

“One of the sessions was he was the ‘joker’, so I’m not sure you can really count that.

“But this game tonight gave us the opportunity to do it, because it was mainly about creating, and that’s obviously his best skill.

“We will see. There’s a chance, he played 20 tonight, but I don’t know.

“I don’t even know how he’ll react until tomorrow, so we will see if he can get out of bed tomorrow or not, or if he has kind of muscle soreness or something like that.

“He enjoyed the game, the few minutes, obviously. But how I said, I like speaking about Thiago – it’s absolutely no problem – but honestly, the boys who did the job so far did exceptionally well, I have to say.

“So it’s not that we could not survive if he cannot start the next game, but it’s very good that he is now fit and is obviously in contention. I like that a lot.”

Klopp’s words came immediately post the draw at Newcastle and hopefully, the five-day break will have afforded Thiago the chance to both rest and return to training to put his hand up for selection.

Nevertheless, Liverpool are expected to have the same squad available from midweek on the south coast with no new injuries to report in what is a major boost after a couple of poor results.

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