Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to return to action for the first time in almost a year when he lines up for Liverpool’s under-23 side against Derby County on Friday.
England midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain was a key man for the Reds last season, but he sustained a knee ligament injury in their Champions League semi-final first leg at home to Roma at the end of April.
That ailment kept him out of the 2018 World Cup and he has not seen any action yet this term.
But having returned to training, Oxlade-Chamberlain will feature for Neil Critchley’s reserve side this week. He is likely to play 45 minutes.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told the club’s official website: “The plan is to give him some match time.
“All that we saw so far in training looks really good, it looks really exciting, but we all know it is a massive difference between each training session you have and playing a proper game.
“It’s not about the opponent, it’s about judging situations, a bigger pitch, higher intensity, a different concentration level. The preparation for a match is different to a normal training session, so players after a long period [out] need to get used to that.
— Alex Ox-Chamberlain (@Alex_OxChambo) February 18, 2019
“There is absolutely no expectation on the game apart from to go through it, tick that box, come back and go on training again.
“It doesn’t say anything about him ‘being ready for five days later’ or whatever, it is just a first and very, very important step.
“As I said, in training, Ox is back but now we have to make sure we really prepare him for the rest of his career and the rest of this season.
“Probably it will be 45 minutes and that’s absolutely OK. It is a bit difficult for Critch when the manager tells you to make a change at half-time, but it’s nice for Ox.”
Discussing plans for the former Arsenal man moving forward, Klopp added: “Let’s see how he reacts, how he feels and all that stuff.
“But it is not in the plans, there is nothing to think about before the international break, except this game, maybe another game and having a bit longer and then having the international break.”
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