When bringing players back from injury, it’s usually best to take things slowly, ease them back in and reduce the risk of another problem occurring.
That’s surely what Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp needs to do with Reds midfielder Naby Keita, especially as the date of his potential return is seemingly approaching quickly.
The latest intriguing report from Physio Room states that the Guinea international could return to first team action as soon as Saturday’s clash with Newcastle United.
If that is truly the case then Klopp has a big decision to make. The 24-year-old, on a reported £120,000-per-week at the club [Source: Spotrac], has played only 23 minutes of first team football this season [Source: Transfermarkt].
That game time came back in early August against Manchester City in the Community Shield, and he has been missing pretty much ever since with a torn muscle injury.
This is, of course, a man who hasn’t had a significant stretch of uninterrupted injury since being stretchered off against Barcelona in a Champions League clash in May.
We saw what happened when he was rushed back to action with his country for the African Cup of Nations this summer. It merely aggravated his not-yet-fully-healed injury and kept him out for longer.
Given that Klopp already has a bevy of quality central midfielders to choose from, it would surely be best for him to leave Keita out for another week or, at most, hand him a spot on the bench against the Magpies.
With Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana all fit and raring to go, there’s no need to put Keita back in the team prematurely.
So, while it’s exciting to think he could return against Steve Bruce’s side, now is the time for Klopp to be conservative and ease the Guinean back gradually.