With Liverpool struggling for any kind of consistency so far this season, Jurgen Klopp believes his side could have a “different” look to it after the mid-season break for the World Cup.
Saturday’s home clash with Leeds is the first of five matches before the Reds’ season grinds to a halt for the first-ever winter edition of the tournament.
And while some teams may feel that the break could see them lose momentum, Klopp is hoping that the six weeks in-between matches could work in Liverpool’s favour.
The break offers injured players the opportunity to regain fitness for the second half of the season, with the players who aren’t involved in Qatar set to travel to Dubai for a mid-season training camp with the Reds.
“If different means this, yes,” Klopp said while flexing his muscles when asked if his team could be “a different Liverpool” after the World Cup.
“It’s honestly not my subject. Yes, we will be different, yes we will have training, yes we will have players back, but it depends how the players come back from the World Cup, I have no idea about that.
“If they all come back healthy from the World Cup, if they all go out early, have a break and can then train with us for three-and-a-half weeks, that would be absolutely outstanding, but that’s a lot of ‘ifs’.
“In this moment, I’m not interested in the Liverpool after the World Cup, I’m interested in the Liverpool tomorrow.”
One player who looks unlikely to feature in any of the Reds’ five games prior to the tournament is Naby Keita, who is yet to kick a ball this season having been sidelined with a thigh injury.
The Guinean, who is out of contract next summer, has recently returned to training, but is still in the process of building up his fitness.
Klopp was reluctant to completely rule out Keita’s chances of making his return to action before the break, but says it will be still be some time until the midfielder is “fully fit” again.
“Naby is still in a longer rehab phase,” Klopp added.
When pressed on whether he could play before the break for the World Cup, he said: “It will be tight.
“I think Naby will have a full ‘pre-season’ with us in December, and that will be perfect for him.
“Even if he can play before, he has no chance to be fully fit, he’s coming out of rehab. We have five games, so I wouldn’t rule him out of one or two of them, but in this moment he still has a gap to fill.”