Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool’s international tournament contingent will not be fully ready for the start of the Premier League campaign – as he detailed plans of how the Reds will approach their remaining friendlies.
Jordan Henderson is the only senior player to remain absent after Brazilian trio Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino joined the final leg of the pre-season training camp in Evian this weekend.
Henderson is expected to link up with the squad on their return to Merseyside following Thursday’s two 60-minute matches against Bologna.
Diogo Jota, Andy Robertson, Xherdan Shaqiri and Andy Robertson have all missed parts of pre-season having also featured in Euro 2020.
And having been without key players for significant periods of his squad’s preparation, Klopp said: “It’s a challenge for us, you can imagine.
“The Brazilians will start tomorrow (Monday) with training properly with us. That’s then pretty much we are nearly complete.
“Maybe on Thursday in our two 60-minute games against Bologna we can involve them already, I don’t know yet – maybe 15, 20, 30 minutes.
“Hendo will not be here probably until the end, he will get included in England.”
Klopp has long been critical of the lack of rest time for international players between seasons, with Liverpool’s Brazilians having had just three weeks off since helping their country reach the Copa America final.
Asked if there was enough time for the trio to be fully fit for the Premier League opener at Norwich City on Saturday week, Klopp said to liverpoolfc.com: “No, they never have enough time. The players who play international football never have enough time, that was always like this.
“I think last year it was 10 days, if I’m 100% right, for the first game. But nobody listens about that, nobody is interested in that – we just carry on like this and everybody expects in the end kind of perfect-tuned football teams.
“There will be a moment in the season when that happens but in the beginning it’s pretty much for all teams the same, so it’s a fair competition.
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“We have to make sure we can win football games, we don’t have to play the best football in the world, we just have to win football games. Then step by step, finding our way again and that will happen for sure.
“The good thing is in three weeks holiday you don’t lose a lot. They don’t have three weeks no training.”
Liverpool will train in Evian before concluding their camp with the double header against Bologna, after which Spanish sides Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna visit Anfield on successive days next weekend.
Klopp has confirmed the intention to play two separate starting line-ups on Thursday, and said: “For sure now we have enough players who have to play 60 minutes, that’s clear. But we have some, they are maybe not allowed or should not play a full 60, so some will play 30.
“What we did this year was slightly different from other years. We train what we have to do and then you play the games on top of that, but usually the next day when you play 45 early or 60 minutes early in the pre-season then you have to calm down a little bit in training and we didn’t do that this year.
“We just could go through intensity-wise, which helped, I think, a lot. So, now we have the double 60 – I really like that, Bologna was fine with it as well.”
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Klopp added: “Then we come home and we have the two games at Anfield. There’s one team who plays that game and it’s maybe more likely, I don’t know yet, for the weekend later and the other team who came a little bit later then they will play the second game – so everybody has 90 minutes in their legs.
“Then we play the first game against Norwich, then we probably have again a pre-season training game on Sunday at Kirkby or wherever, just to try to give them all a chance to get some rhythm.”
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, who both returned to action in Thursday’s 4-3 friendly defeat to Hertha Berlin after long spells out with respective knee problems, took part in training on Sunday and are slated to feature against Bologna.
But Klopp said: “I want to make it really clear, we push nothing. We just don’t. We wait a little bit, the players come, we have now with Dr Andreas Schlumberger a real specialist who is in constant talks and always observing everything.
“We know exactly how they feel – how they really feel and not what they tell us because they obviously are desperate to play again. How many minutes on Thursday, I don’t know but there will be some minutes for sure.”
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