Jurgen Klopp believes the fit-again Naby Keita is ready to make his mark on Liverpool’s season following a frustrating run with injuries.
The midfielder returned from a hip problem in last week’s EFL Cup win at MK Dons, completing just over an hour of the 2-0 victory.
It was his first involvement in a matchday squad since the Premier League opener against Norwich City on August 9 but the Guinea international did not travel to Bramall Lane for Saturday’s win over Sheffield United.
Reds boss Klopp confirmed Keita’s absence was designed to prepare him for this week’s two games, beginning with the Champions League clash against his former side Salzburg on Wednesday.
“We could have taken him on the bench at the weekend but then he would have lost two proper sessions and we wanted to give him these sessions,” Klopp said.
“He should be ready now. I spoke to [fitness coach] Andreas Kornmayer and he said Sunday’s session was really good and important. It was very intense for him and that is what he needs now.
“He was injured, came back and got injured again so we have to make sure that will not happen anymore.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 1, 2019
“It’s good now, much better. The last talk I had with him was in English and it looked like he understood what I said. That is a big step. He is here long enough now.
“It was a big step for him to come here from [RB] Leipzig with big expectations and hopefully you all still remember how good he started.”
The hip issue Keita suffered ahead of the UEFA Super Cup in August followed soon after his short-lived return from an adductor strain.
Injuries plagued his debut season with Liverpool but manager Klopp is determined to help the ex-Leipzig player reach his peak.
“We have to make sure it will not happen again and then everything will be fine,” the German said.
“He will be in the squad [to face Salzburg] 100 per cent. Everything is settled now. It is long enough and that helps him to perform.”
Liverpool entertain Leicester City at Anfield three days after the visit of Salzburg.