It’s been a long eight months for Joe Gomez following his crushing injury blow, but he can finally start to see the payoff for his hard work with a return to training in pre-season.
With Virgil van Dijk already out with a long-term injury, Gomez was to take the mantle as Jurgen Klopp‘s first-choice centre-back for the rest of the season in 2020/21.
But international duty with Gareth Southgate’s England squad in November would end in despair with a patellar tendon tear that required immediate surgery.
Within less than a month the Reds were without their two key pillars at the back and it was to be a long journey back for the duo, who relied heavily upon one another during rehab.
Now some eight months later, both Gomez and Van Dijk are able to join in with their teammates as preparations begin in earnest for the upcoming season in what is a massive boost for Klopp’s side.
Caution will remain and individually tailored programmes still in place such was the nature of their injuries, but Gomez is loving “every minute” of being able to be in and amongst his teammates in Austria.
“It’s nice to be back among the boys. It’s been a long time, so I’m relishing it,” Gomez told the club’s official website after a team training session.
Not many better feelings ??? pic.twitter.com/l26eQzfPU0
— Joe Gomez (@J_Gomez97) July 13, 2021
“Obviously after such a long layoff, it’s not a case of just being thrown in the deep end; we’ll probably have to do some adaptations, the likes of myself and Virgil.
“That’s where it’s nice to work alongside each other – we had different injuries, but we’ve been in it together all the way.
“There’ll be days where we have to do something more suitable for us, but to do team training today after such a long time means a lot. I think speaking for us both, we loved every minute of it.”
Gomez took part in the lactate test on Monday and has since participated in various drills with the team and the significance of the moment is not lost on the 24-year-old.
“There are times at the beginning [of recovery] when it feels daunting and you think, ‘How am I going to get back to that level?’ but we have such good staff around us here and everyone works together to do everything to prepare us for this moment,” Gomez continued.
“You get to a certain point and then it’s just a buzz to get back to doing what you do.
“It’s been a long journey and a tough one, but that was the reward I think we needed – and there’ll be many more, our first game and stuff like that. They’re all monumental moments.”
Recovery from his injury will continue throughout pre-season but each day marks another step forward and Gomez is not taking anything for granted ahead of the new season.
“[It’s] just gratitude to be in the position again, hungrier than ever just because you get that, having that perspective,” Gomez added.
“Enjoying it, taking it a day at a time, but thankful to be out here with the lads and happy to wear the badge again.”