Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has not had much luck over the past year with Liverpool, but assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders has hinted that may be changing ahead of 2021/22.
It has been the definition of a stop-start career for Oxlade-Chamberlain on Merseyside, with injuries depriving him of back-to-back campaigns as regular starter.
The knee injury suffered against Roma in 2018 limited him to just two appearances in 2018/19, and after featuring 43 times the following season, he made just two starts in 17 outings last time out.
His most successful term remains his first with the club, in 2017/18, when he scored five goals and laid on eight assists in 42 appearances as he made himself undroppable on the road to the Champions League final.
There is no sign of Jurgen Klopp and his staff giving up on the player, who was available more often than not last season but fell foul to the defensive injury crisis as his manager opted not to rotate often in midfield or attack.
Oxlade-Chamberlain found opportunities late in the season as a striker, and capped a mini-revival with a goal off the bench against Burnley in the penultimate game.
Now, he is catching the eye in pre-season in Austria, with Lijnders singling the No. 15 out for praise in his column for LiverpoolFC.com.
“Ox has scored some absolute worldies in training in these last few days,” the Dutchman said, “and you absolutely love to see it!”
Liverpool’s Inside Training footage has backed up that claim, with Oxlade-Chamberlain looking sharp in small-sided games as he leads with incisive passes, smart movements and tidy finishes.
With the Reds set to play in front of a full Anfield for the first time since last March later this summer, it is worth remembering how effective the Englishman was in the last game played out to a capacity crowd.
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Oxlade-Chamberlain played 82 minutes against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16 second leg, and was arguably the most dangerous player.
It would seem as though he is a player who needs to build up steam before regaining form, and there could be an opportunity for him to do so in pre-season due to the absence of Jordan Henderson, Thiago and Fabinho.
Roberto Firmino is also on holiday after the Copa America final, and it could even be that Oxlade-Chamberlain challenges the likes of Taiwo Awoniyi, Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi for the starting spot up front.
Could fortune be back on the side of one of Liverpool’s most likeable players? Only time will tell.