LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's Wataru End? during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wataru Endo returning to Liverpool early – but NOT due to injury

Wataru Endo is returning to Liverpool early from international duty, but Reds supporters can breathe a sigh of relief as it is not due to injury!

The 31-year-old is instead returning to Merseyside early after Japan’s scheduled World Cup qualifier against North Korea was postponed.

The match was due to take place next Tuesday (March 26), but the Asian Football Confederation announced on Friday that the fixture “will not take place as scheduled due to unforeseen circumstances.

“The decision, taken in consultation with FIFA and relevant stakeholders, comes after the AFC was informed on March 20 by the DPR Korea Football Association of the need to move the match to a neutral venue due to unavoidable circumstances.”

This follows a report from Kyodo News in North Korea, which has no formal diplomatic relations with Tokyo, “decided not to stage the match in Pyongyang over worries about infectious diseases in Japan.”

Strangely, Japan actually beat North Korea in another qualifier in Tokyo on Thursday, a match which Endo was substitute for and played only the last half an hour.

DOHA, QATAR - Sunday, November 27, 2022: Japan's Wataru Endo during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Japan and Costa Rica at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Costa Rica won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

All in, it’s great news from a Liverpool perspective, with Endo only playing that half an hour of football during the international break and can now recover longer after what has been an intense period for the Japan captain.

Endo started 16 of Liverpool’s last 17 fixtures in all competitions, becoming a mainstay in the side due to injuries and then retaining his place at the base of midfield even after Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai returned.

With another intense period of football ahead now as the season reaches its climax, a good recovery and rest period for Endo will do him the world of good.

This international break appears to be much kinder to Liverpool’s players. Luis Diaz is remaining within Europe with Colombia, playing their last game next Tuesday in Madrid.