Liverpool have been given a massive injury boost ahead of their Europa League second-leg showdown with Manchester United, with the news that Martin Skrtel is "itching" to make his return at Old Trafford.
Skrtel has been sidelined with a hamstring tear since December, but has taken another decisive step towards a first-team comeback. Ahead of Thursday's Europa League meeting, the Slovakia international played for an hour as Liverpool and United clashed in an Under-21 Premier League match on Friday 11 March, alongside another first-teamer in Steven Caulker. Jordon Ibe also featured in attack.
Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho excelled at the heart of defence in the first-leg of the Eruopa League tie, but according to Liverpool's Under-21 boss Michael Beale, Srtkel is determined to force his way back into contention.
"It was always the plan," Beale told Liverpool's official website of Skrtel's return for the Under-21s. "Martin has obviously been out for some time now and he will be itching to get into the squad for next Thursday and move onwards from there.
Jerome Sinclair put Liverpool Under-21s ahead on the night before United captain James Weir pulled back an equaliser with 18 minutes of the contest remaining.
Liverpool will have had a week off by the time they travel to Manchester for Thursday's second leg, while United are coming off the back of a gruelling FA Cup draw with West Ham United.
Jurgen Klopp's injury woes have eased significantly after a rotten start to 2016. While Danny Ings and Joe Gomez remain long-term absentees, midfielders Kevin Stewart and Lucas Leiva are there only other treatment room residents at the moment. Skrtel will be the latest to return to the first-team fold, with Daniel Sturridge looking to end his season on a high after a campaign that has been marred by injury setbacks.