Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Roberto Firmino returned to training today ahead of Tuesday night's (20 September) EFL Cup third-round trip to Derby County. The Brazilian playmaker was omitted from the recent Premier League clash with Chelsea due to a groin strain.
The visitors coped with Firmino's absence admirably at Stamford Bridge, with an early Dejan Lovren goal and a sensational curling strike from captain Jordan Henderson securing an impressive 2-1 win for the in-form Reds – their fourth in six matches across all competitions this term – that propelled them into the top four. Despite that success, however, the 24-year-old remains an integral part of the first-team squad on Merseyside, highlighting his importance with three goals in five appearances including a brace in the demolition of defending champions Leicester City.
Klopp described Firmino's injury as a "little issue", following that defeat of Chelsea, and revealed that he personally made the decision not to play him on the afternoon of the match – despite others insisting that he could take the risk.
Providing an update, at a press conference held at Melwood on Monday afternoon, he was quoted as saying by Liverpool's official website: "We gave him [Firmino] yesterday [off] and today again because the medical department told me that he could have played.
"But I heard the word risk too often so I decided no. I'm very happy that it worked out. They told me if we give him three days then everything will be perfect. Today is the fourth day. He has already had three, so he is in."
Klopp also spoke on the condition of Mamadou Sakho. The French centre-back has yet to play a single minute of first-team football so far this season and reportedly rejected the chance to leave Anfield on a loan deal prior to the close of the transfer window after an eventful summer in which he was cleared by Uefa over a potential doping violation and later sent home from Liverpool's pre-season tour of the United States.
"[He is] still working on [his fitness]," Klopp added. "Of course he is closer, he is still working. But [being] match fit is a big difference. That's all. It's not about only making a few sessions. It's not about how the player feels. It's about how I feel and how close the player is. That needs time. It's a long, long time that he didn't play, for sure. All the other players had not that long a break. Then it makes more sense that you really use the time and that's what we are working on."
Record eight-time winners Liverpool have made deep runs in the League Cup in each of the past two years, reaching the last four under Brendan Rodgers in 2014/15 before losing February's final to Manchester City on penalties. This season's campaign began with a 5-0 drubbing of Burton Albion, and Klopp's side will be confident of further success against Championship opposition. This is given that Derby – who last month signed James Wilson and Watford duo Matej Vydra and Ikechi Anya – have taken only six points from their first eight league matches under new boss Nigel Pearson, and scored just twice to leave the perennial promotion contenders languishing in 20th position.
The Rams advanced to round three by seeing off League Two opposition in Grimsby Town and Carlisle United. The latter tie was won via a mammoth penalty shoot-out at the iPro Stadium.