June 20, 2021

SportsOnly

Football and other sports news

Liverpool boosted by Jota’s return to training

3 min read

Liverpool received a much-needed boost with the return to full training of Diogo Jota for the first time since December.

And the Portugal international’s re-integration with the full squad after 11 weeks out with a knee problem was watched by defender Virgil Van Dijk, who was seen doing an individual outdoor session for the first time since his ACL injury in October.

Jota’s availability cannot come soon enough for Jurgen Klopp’s side who have won just two of their last 11 league matches in which they have scored just nine times, six of which came in back-to-back victories at Tottenham and West Ham in late January.

The £41million September signing from Wolves had scored eight goals in his last 11 matches before being sidelined after playing in their Champions League dead rubber against Midtjylland on 9 December.

Jota was pictured with his team-mates at the training ground on Wednesday, with Van Dijk also making an appearance outdoors away from the main group.

The Holland captain, whose early rehabilitation following surgery was in Dubai, was seen doing some work with a speed ladder and some minor exercises with the ball.

Klopp said at the start of the month he did not expect the Dutchman to play again this season – much like fellow centre-backs Joe Gomez (knee) and Joel Matip (ankle) – and this remains the case despite the defender’s first appearance outdoors, which is just a normal part of his rehab.

Of more concern to the Red boss, who is still awaiting news of the extent of Jordan Henderson’s groin problem amid speculation suggestion he could be absent for 12 weeks, was the continued absence of Fabinho.

The Brazil midfielder has provided cover in central defence for most of the season but has missed the last three matches after aggravating a muscle problem against Manchester City at the start of the month and has so far only been seen doing indoor gym work.

That makes it unlikely he will be available for Sunday’s trip to bottom side Sheffield United, which Liverpool have to win to get their bid for the top-four back on track.

However, forward Sadio Mane admits the priority is now the Champions League, in which they hold a 2-0 first-leg lead over RB Leipzig.

“Our target from the beginning was the Champions League, the Premier League and also cup games,” he told ESPN Brazil.

“And now, I can say it’s over for the Premier League… it’s too much.

“In our head, our self-belief, it’s always ‘never give up’, and we won’t give up, but for sure, Manchester City are a good team and they’re flying.

“Beyond the top four is now, right now, our main target. But the Champions League, that is our main, main, main target. To win it, not be second, but it won’t be easy.

“You’re going to face the best teams in Europe, but we’re here to beat the best in the world.

“We’ll do everything possible to go forward and win the Champions League.”

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