Liverpool striker Divock Origi has not ruled out playing again this season as he bids to return from his ankle injury. The 21-year-old has been out of action since 20 April, when he was stretchered off during the second half of a 4-0 Merseyside derby victory over Everton following a bad challenge from Ramiro Funes Mori that was deservedly punished with a straight red card.
This blow curtailed an impressive run of form for Origi, who completed a £10m ($14.4m) move to Anfield in July 2014 before immediately being loaned back to former club Lille for an additional year. The Belgian international scored five goals in as many matches before his injury, notching in both Europa League quarter-final meetings with Borussia Dortmund, sandwiching a brace against Stoke City. He also netted the opener against Everton in a match where he thankfully avoided breaking any bones, although manager Jurgen Klopp was initially fearful the player may have sustained ligament damage.
That would surely have ruled him out for the rest of the campaign, and Liverpool started Daniel Sturridge in the subsequent draw with Newcastle United before deploying Roberto Firmino in a false nine role away to Villarreal. The Reds welcome their Spanish counterparts to Merseyside on Thursday (5 May) for the second leg of that semi-final tie. While Origi will play no part in that match, he seems positive about a role in the final and/or in his side's final three Premier League outings against Watford, Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion.
"It's progressing well," Origi told Liverpool's official website about the status of his ankle. "It's been ten days now so I try and improve every day and make steps, we just try and [ensure that] I'm back as quick as possible. For example, yesterday and today I feel a big difference, with these injuries it can evolve everyday and we put in a lot of work. I come into [Melwood] very early and I leave in the evening, so we [work] a lot of hours, but I think that's necessary because I want to come back as soon as possible."
On whether he could return before the summer, he added: "Of course, I believe in it. My goal is to come back as soon as possible and I just want to go back on the pitch. I think it's possible but you never know."
Liverpool have already been handed a major fitness boost ahead of their decisive clash with Villarreal after Emre Can returned to training much quicker than anticipated following ruptured ankle ligaments sustained against Dortmund. Striker Danny Ings is also back in first-team contention after seven months out with a serious knee injury, although Joe Gomez is still recovering. Captain and England midfielder Jordan Henderson faces a race against time to be ready for Euro 2016 after damaging his lateral collateral ligament in early April.