Jurgen Klopp appears to have calmed the frenzied speculation regarding Daniel Sturridge's latest setback, stressing the need for Liverpool to remain patient with the injury-plagued striker as he bids to return to full fitness. The 26-year-old, who has not featured for his club since the Merseyside derby against Everton on 4 October following a knee problem, was an unused substitute during the 4-1 demolition of Manchester City on 21 November but missed out altogether on a Europa League victory over Bordeaux after hurting his foot in training.
Such a hitch is the latest in a long line of frustrating complications for Sturridge, who endured a five-month layoff earlier in 2105 in the aftermath of surgery on his hip and has a long history of persistent thigh injuries.Klopp professed to be unaware of the extent of the player's newest issue following the European encounter at Anfield on 26 November and while he is said to have undergone a scan to determine the extent of the damage, it is not clear whether a place in the matchday squad for the upcoming visit of Swansea City is a realistic goal.
"I cannot think of this like you because I have not been here that long," the charismatic boss said in his weekly pre-match press conference, as relayed by the Liverpool Echo. "But I understand. His body had to adapt to the new intensity of training and learn what is serious pain and what is only pain. Everyone wants him back on the pitch but we all have to learn. Training for him was intensive. But we have to stay patient. I am sorry for you, sorry for me, sorry for him.
"All the players from yesterday are in good shape. Does Daniel have a chance for Sunday? I don't know. But five weeks in a row without playing means he needs matches."
Henderson back in training
Sturridge is certainly not the only key absentee on Merseyside this season. Jordan Henderson, appointed as official club captain during the summer following the departure of Steven Gerrard, has been sidelined since breaking a bone in his right foot during a session at Melwood in September that marked his return from a heel injury. The former Sunderland midfielder has now returned to first-team training, although Klopp is cautious about throwing him in too soon.
"Jordan and Jordan [Henderson and Rossiter] trained today. Henderson wants [to return] I can say that. He wants to play but we have to wait. We'll see every day how he adapts to the intensity of the previous day. "Henderson is always [knocking] on the door, wanting to play. But he needs to be perfect physically. When in that shape we can use him."
Liverpool have vastly improved since Klopp succeeded Brendan Rodgers, tasting defeat just once – a 2-1 home loss to Crystal Palace – in his first 10 matches in charge. Joe Allen is expected to be fit to face his former club after being replaced by Emre Can after 67 minutes of the Group B victory over Bordeaux that secured their place in the last 32 of the Europa League. However, it remains to be seen if impressive match-winner Christian Benteke is able to play again so soon following his own injury strife.
"He [Allen] was very good but we took him off after 60 minutes with Sunday in mind," Klopp added. "I don't know yet if Benteke can play two games in three days."