Jurgen Klopp could feel the emotion inside Anfield as Jon Flanagan made his Liverpool return after almost 18 months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Flanagan received a rapturous ovation from the Liverpool faithful as he made his first competitive appearance for the senior side since the final day of the 2013-14 Premier League season against Newcastle United.
The 23-year-old came on as a substitute and replaced Connor Randall in the 51st minute of Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Exeter City in the FA Cup third round replay.
The German was touched by Flanagan’s return and his reception, praising the defender’s character and spirit for getting himself back to fitness.
“When Flanno [Flanagan] came in it was a great moment after this long time. To be honest I haven’t had him very often in training until now because we need really to be careful with him and it’s not allowed to be too intensive. It’s always training, break, recovery,” Klopp said.
“He had a few minutes in the Under-21s. Connor Randall had a little muscle problem so we had the chance to bring Flanno on and it was a real emotional moment.
“I think nobody deserved it more than him. It’s such a long time, an unbelievable long time. Since I’ve been here he’s always been injured but never in a bad mood.
“That’s unbelievable. He’s a really strong lad, hopefully now it goes on. We have to see how he is tomorrow, take it day by day but it’s some of the best news we could get him being back.”