Diogo Jota returned to full training this week and Jurgen Klopp has been impressed by what he has seen so far, but was coy on the capacity of his reintroduction to the side.
Like any other time during the season, good news is met by more bad news and in this case, it is Jota’s return set against the backdrop of Jordan Henderson being ruled out for up to eight weeks.
It’s another untimely blow at the back and in midfield, but a forward line who are all but firing blanks have been boosted by the re-emergence of Jota.
The No. 20 has been sidelined since early December and yet remains Liverpool’s third top goalscorer, with nine, where he is only two behind second-best Sadio Mane.
And Jota’s return to team training could not have come at a better time, but he is not expected to go straight into the starting lineup after 11 weeks in the treatment room – despite looking “very good” in his two sessions to date.
“Diogo trained now twice with the team. Looks very good, very good,” Klopp told reporters.
“But he is out long term so we have to see what we can do with that, but in training, he looks really promising.
“Of course it is positive [Jota’s return], but it is not the only positive. It’s very positive that Diogo is back after a long time.
“Most of the others who are out for a long time we will not see on the training pitch until the end of season, so yes, it’s very positive.
“And the way he came back in training is very positive so we just have to make a decision about what makes sense for him, when does it make sense for him and all these kind of things.”
A place on the bench, therefore, at Bramall Lane is the likely way forward with potential for minutes late in the fixture to mark his long-awaited return, with a start against Chelsea more likely.
While Klopp will say the opposite, he does step back into a team with pressure on his shoulders as the Reds need to find the net with ease once more as they battle for a top-four spot and progression in Europe.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Fabinho and James Milner are to return to training on Saturday, too soon for the trip to Sheffield United, while Klopp hinted that Henderson may be facing a longer stint on the sidelines.