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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Liverpool v Atalanta: Klopp coy on Alexander-Arnold, Jota involvement

Jurgen Klopp is yet to decide if returning duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota will be involved when Liverpool face Atalanta in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie on Thursday.

Alexander-Arnold sustained a knee ligament problem in a 3-1 win over Burnley in early February, while Jota has not featured since suffering a knee injury against Brentford one week later.

Liverpool have coped admirably in their absence, with a number of young players stepping up to help the Reds win the EFL Cup and keep their hopes of Premier League and Europa League glory alive.

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The duo returned to team training this week, while regular goalkeeper Alisson is also closing in on a return after travelling with the team for last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United.

While Klopp is relieved to have some of his most trusted players returning to the fold, he is unsure who will be involved when La Dea visit Anfield.

“We didn’t rush it with the boys, they’ve done a lot of training by themselves, especially Diogo and Trent, they worked as a group for two or three weeks and could do proper training,” Klopp said at Wednesday’s pre-match press conference.

“They were very good yesterday. Stefan [Bajcetic] is different because he was out for longer but he has been training for longer.

“It makes sense that after he was out for so long, we’ll give him a game with the under-21s and see how he deals with it. That’s not the plan for the other guys.

“Alisson is on the way back as well, so we have to see how we involve them and use them. It’s clear we need them, but we need them in the best possible shape.

“It’s always a challenge to reintegrate them, but with the quality they have it should be a bit easier. We will use them in the coming weeks but what that means for tomorrow, we don’t know yet.”

While Klopp will not rush his players back, he says Liverpool’s packed schedule presents him with an opportunity to get them up to speed quickly.

“Sometimes you think that the first second they step foot on the training ground, we have to play them again. We had these situations in other years,” Klopp continued.

“They need time to get healthy. They are the happiest about the situation we are in, but they all need to get back step by step.

“If they are ready to go and get minutes, it’s the perfect time because we play Thursday and Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday.

“It’s not about who can play all the games, the young guys who stepped in couldn’t play every game. We always need quality on the pitch because we need to win pretty much every game.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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