Harvey Elliott made his long-awaited return to team training on Tuesday after more than four months on the sidelines, and while he’s not lost his sharpness he still needs time.
The 18-year-old’s bright start to the campaign was derailed by a nasty ankle-fracture dislocation injury back in September.
Eyes since then have been readily cast in Elliott’s direction as he made one step after another in his rehabilitation, having drummed up plenty of interest in his progress.
And after 128 days, he was back in team training at Kirkby on Tuesday with a wide smile and was immediately greeted by a Jurgen Klopp hug as he got stuck back in with his teammates.
Initial signs were bright but assistant manager Pep Lijnders has conceded that “he needs time” as while he is running through the door, it’s all about building him back up to match fitness.
“Let me say it like this, he didn’t lose his football brain!” Lijnders told the club’s official website.
“He shows immediately what he’s about. It would be a crime if you would not play him if he trains like this, but we know it’s just the start of his start with the team training.
“He needs time and we go step by step, of course.
“Some players they never knock on the door, they run through it – and he’s one of them.
“The most important thing is he really gets team fit and that he prepares himself well for the moment he’s really ready. We’re really happy he’s back with us on the pitch.”
Elliott has four appearances under his belt this season but he packed a lot into his 250 minutes prior to injury, and one could only expect to see him following the January international break.
Patience and managing expectations will be the key, however, after a long stint in rehab.