Jurgen Klopp will make a late decision on the fitness of Roberto Firmino ahead of Liverpool's last match of the 2016-17 campaign against Middlesbrough this weekend. The Reds welcome relegated 'Boro to Anfield on Sunday (21 May) hoping to cement their position in the top four and secure a place in next season's Champions League.
Firmino missed last week's visit to West Ham United due to a muscle injury, but his absence was not too keenly felt as Liverpool ran riot and temporarily reclaimed third place in the Premier League with an emphatic 4-0 victory that featured a brace from Philippe Coutinho and further efforts from Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi.
Klopp is optimistic that the Brazilian forward will be available to face Middlesbrough, despite him having yet to return to full first-team training. A final call will be made after a fitness test scheduled for Saturday.
"[It's] very positive," the manager told reporters at his pre-match press conference. "We could not decide until now, but he feels good and he feels comfortable. He did a lot of things, but was not part of team training. That's not a problem after this long season.
"I think we will make a final test tomorrow. In this moment, I would rather say 'yes' than 'perhaps', but I am not sure."
Liverpool will remain without long-term absentees Sadio Mane, Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan on the final day, while Jordan Henderson is also still sidelined. The skipper has not played since February due to a persistent foot problem, although is still managing to exert his influence in other areas. Klopp insists he has no worries about the lingering issue.
"It's not that difficult an injury, the problem is only that it's difficult to make the rehabilitation because this injury, all it needs is time," he said. "I had situations like this [before]. I don't know how many players I've managed in the last few years, but at one point always you think 'it would have been better if he would have broken his leg' or whatever [because] then you know everything about it.
"That's the situation, but we were not one second without our captain because Hendo is always around. He has an unbelievably important role, not only on the pitch but it's another role in the dressing room, here at Melwood and all that stuff, and he's always here so we are never without him and will not be without him on Sunday, of course. But no, there are no concerns [about his recovery], the only problem is the season was obviously a little bit too short for him to come back, that's all."
Liverpool, one point ahead of Arsenal and two adrift of Manchester City, head into their clash with 'Boro knowing that a 22nd top-flight victory of the season would guarantee fourth and a spot in the Champions League play-off round. They could still finish third and secure automatic qualification for the group stages if they win and Pep Guardiola's side lose at Watford, or if City draw and they triumph by more than four goals.
The slim prospect of a potential Champions League play-off still exists due to similar numbers in both the goals scored and goal difference columns. Liverpool would drop out of the top four altogether if they are beaten or held by Middlesbrough and Arsenal see off Everton at the Emirates Stadium.