Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp revelled in the long-awaited return of star midfielder Thiago Alcantara.

Thiago came off the bench in his first appearance since October as Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw by Newcastle United in the Premier League on Wednesday.

The former Bayern Munich man, who sustained a knee injury in a 2-2 draw with Everton on October 17, was a 73rd-minute substitute and managed to make 23 passes with 91.3 per cent accuracy midweek.

“We signed Thiago actually because we thought he was a good player, so you can imagine we would like to have him in the team. That’s clear,” Klopp told reporters during his post-match news conference.

“What the other boys did in the time he was not available is absolutely incredible. James Milner, for example, tonight played a super game in midfield. Really. So, yes, it’s good [he is back], he is a super player. I think of the 20 minutes, 12 round about were brilliant and then he felt the intensity, but that’s normal. He trained exactly twice with the team. There is still some physical work to do, still some rhythm to get.

“[Xherdan] Shaqiri is back and that’s, by the way, the best news tonight – the boys are back and, as far as I know in the moment, nobody got injured tonight, which is a very important thing. That means we can probably go with the same squad to Southampton.”

Back-to-back draws against West Brom and Newcastle has seen Liverpool’s lead atop the table reduced to three points, with rivals and second-placed Manchester United boasting a game in hand.

Liverpool failed to score for the first time in 22 Premier League matches, while the defending champions were unable to win their final league game of a calendar year for the first time in seven years.

The Reds’ only shot on target in the second half came in the 88th minute via Roberto Firmino’s header. Liverpool have now managed just one attempt on target after half-time in each of their last two Premier League games.

“Look, not scoring is a concern if you don’t create,” Klopp said. “That’s how it is. If you create, it’s just momentum, it’s for now. But if you keep creating then you will score, that’s it. I know we will score again, that’s not our problem in the moment.

“We needed to show a reaction from the second half against West Brom because in that game we lost the plot a little bit in the second half, it looked for me like we were 1-0 down not 1-0 up. Tonight it was a very good reaction on that, without getting the result. But we all know: you win this game 1-0 and everybody is over the moon. And we should have won it at least 1-0, but we didn’t. That’s what we have to accept.

“But I can work with this performance, that’s important. I can work with the things I saw tonight. We can build on that, we don’t have to now change massively in the next three or four days and say, ‘OK everything is going wrong, we have to try to compete another way’. That’s why I’m OK, that’s it.”