Harvey Elliott has been sidelined with a serious ankle injury since September, but the Liverpool youngster is now nearing a return to full training.
Almost three months have passed since a late challenge from Leeds‘ Pascal Struijk left Elliott writhing on the turf at Elland Road, his left ankle badly out of position.
The teenager required surgery and has been working on his rehabilitation ever since at Kirkby, with Jurgen Klopp regularly praising his attitude in recovery.
It is a testament to his form in those early games of the season that his efforts to return have attracted so much attention, and though Liverpool have soldiered on without him, Elliott’s reintegration will be vital.
Pearce reports that “if everything continues to go smoothly he should be given the green light” to take part in full training next month.
Elliott is “bang on course” with his recovery, with it mooted that he could be involved for the final three months of the campaign, as leeway is granted to get back up to speed before taking part in competitive games.
Liverpool will remain cautious with their No. 67, in order to avoid any further setbacks, but there appears to be a certainty within the medical staff that he can play again this season.
Elliott’s injury is a leading example of the problems Liverpool have faced in the middle of the park so far this term, with Thiago, Fabinho, James Milner, Naby Keita and Curtis Jones all struggling with fitness at points.
But things are improving, and though further issues could arise particularly during the festive period, the Reds look poised to ride it out with a near fully fit squad in a busy run of games.
Having Elliott back for the run-in could give Klopp a welcome wild card in the title race, though expectations should be lowered after such a long layoff.