Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is available for the Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal after recovering from an ankle injury. The Germany international has not played since the dramatic quarter-final win over Borussia Dortmund in April and was expected to miss the remainder of the campaign after being ruled out for four weeks.
But the 22-year-old has returned ahead of schedule and could start for the Reds as they attempt to overturned a one-goal deficit from the first leg. Can could stand-in for injured captain Jordan Henderson. who remains out with knee ligament damage – however his participation in the summer's European Champions remains a distinct possibility.
Henderson has not figured for Liverpool since the first leg against Dortmund last month. Though manager Jurgen Klopp remains downbeat over his chances of playing again this season, the 25-year-old could yet feature for Roy Hodgson's England in France.
"Emre Can is ready to return to the squad for sure," Klopp told reporters, according to the Liverpool Echo. "The rest we have to see. Hendo is on a good way, on a good way for England, not too sure how good a way for Liverpool. He was not on the pitch until now and we have to see day-by-day how to improve. Only Emre will return to the squad, the rest are still out."
Adrian Lopez scored a stoppage time winner for the Spanish side, giving them a narrow advantage heading into the second game at Anfield. Liverpool proved against favourites Dortmund they can come back form a poor result and Klopp is not panicking, despite the first-leg result.
"It is like always with a football game; you have to defend at the highest level and you need to score as often as possible so I cannot see the biggest difference. It is normal. That is why I felt that after 1-0, it is not the best moment in my life to be honest when Villarreal scored the goal in the 94th minute.
"It is a normal result, in a European match you can lose away, it is absolutely normal. We are in the second half of this semi-final, we have thought about our game. We know more about what is useful, what is necessary for this game against Villarreal.
"We know about their strengths, but we saw our strengths too in the first game. Our skills, our quality, our passion, our readiness together with the atmosphere of Anfield – that is what I am looking for."