Liverpool's Adam Lallana continues to make strides towards a full recovery from a thigh injury after travelling to Qatar to ramp up the process. The England international has not played this campaign due to a thigh problem picked up during pre-season, with a November return date pencilled in by his club.
Reports this week suggested that Lallana had been sent to a rehabilitation facility in Qatar in order to speed up his recovery. The 29-year-old has been situated at the Aspetar facility alongside a medical official from the Merseysiders, where he has shifted from purely gym work to running outside.
And while out in the Arabian Peninsula, Lallana has caught up with former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi, who is spending the twilight of his professional career with Al Sadd and as an ambassador for the 2022 World Cup.
"Great week stepping up the rehab even further – getting stronger each and every day," Lallana said on Instagram. "Added bonus of meeting and chatting to one of my idols as well – Xavi. So down to earth despite being one of the greatest players of his generation."
Though Lallana has made great progress is recent weeks towards returning to first-team action, the visit of Manchester United comes too soon for the ex-Southampton forward. He remains one of four Liverpool players on the sidelines, with Adam Bogdan, Danny Ings and Nathaniel Clyne also out of action.
Jurgen Klopp's side are therefore faced with an uphill task if they are to overturn the unbeaten co-Premier League leaders, with United yet to lose in seven top flight fixtures and only kept off the top by Manchester City on goal difference.
Defeat to United could see Liverpool slip 10 points behind them ahead of facing Tottenham Hotspur next weekend. Former striker Emile Heskey believes failure to pick up any points from the two games would see the club's title bid end prematurely.
"If Liverpool lost to Manchester United and Tottenham then they are out of the title race, but if they win those games then they're right back into the mix," he told SportingBet.com. "They'd make a big statement if we got a result in those two games. It's a very important couple of weeks that could make or break their title hopes. There's no reason Liverpool can't beat Manchester United and Tottenham."