PORTO, PORTUGAL - Tuesday, September 28, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson hands over the captain's armband to Virgil van Dijk (L) during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 2 game between FC Porto and Liverpool FC at the Estádio do Dragão. Liverpool won 5-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool “won’t rush back” Covid-hit players – but Henderson returns

Pep Lijnders has said Liverpool will not rush the return of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, as players will “need training” after 10 days of isolation.

Currently, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Thiago are in isolation after returning positive cases last week, leaving Jurgen Klopp without four key players.

The earliest return, theoretically, for the former trio is at Leicester on December 28 while Thiago will be free to play against Chelsea on January 2, health permitting.

But while that is when they will each be given the green light from isolation, Lijnders stressed it cannot be treated as a case of an “immediate return” as they will need to train and recover.

“No new cases. We will not rush them back, we will take our time,” Lijnders said of the quartet of players out due to Covid.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 12, 2021: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk (R) and Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“This virus is really unpredictable, so we have to look at it case by case and player by player. Health comes first so we have to make sure we don’t rush it, that they come back whenever they are ready.

“People underestimate when it’s 10 days’ quarantine, they think they can play immediately on day 11, but football doesn’t work like this. You need training.

“Because it’s a team sport you need to again get the feeling of the game. What’s most important is that they are healthy, that they stay safe and that we give them time.”

It ensures there is no certainty of simply slotting the players back into the XI but Lijnders did say that Jordan Henderson is back after missing the Tottenham draw due to a cold, which is a huge boost for Liverpool.

“Jordan is Jordan. He had a heavy cold and he pushes himself immediately, he called yesterday to train again,” Lijnders added.

“This is the kind of player you need to slow down and fortunately we have 24 of these players.”

And there will be no Divock Origi for Wednesday as he has yet to return to team training after a knee issue.

Given Lijnders’ explanation, it seems most likely that the trio of Van Dijk, Fabinho and Jones will return against Chelsea on January 2.