The winter break has provided a much-needed breather for some of Liverpool’s senior stars whilst also presenting others with a crucial period to aid injury woes.
Three players who have suffered from injury or a lack of game-time in recent weeks and who will be looking to return to the cusp of Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League champions-elect are Xherdan Shaqiri, Joel Matip and James Milner.
All three could play a vital role in getting Liverpool over the line to end their 30-year wait for a league title whilst also helping the Reds in their quest for the European and domestic treble.
Here is a look at their prospects…
The Switzerland international has started just two league matches all season following numerous problems with a calf injury.
Shaqiri, 28, has clocked up just 10 appearances in all competitions for the European champions this season. The forward has looked the part in the brief cameos he has made for the league leaders. Shaqiri vindicated his manager’s leap of faith to utilise the former Bayern Munich trickster against Everton back in December after he scored in the 5-2 victory.
Whilst he has only has played one minute of football since the new year, Shaqiri is not to be written off. The former Stoke City talisman has been prejudged before and has proven the doubters wrong on numerous occasions.
Klopp likes to use Shaqiri in the most unexpected moments. Two of his three starts in the last eight months have come during critical moments of the season following glowing performances against Everton and Barcelona. He still has a role to play.
Matip is yet to feature in the league for Liverpool since October following a knee injury sustained in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
The Cameroon defender was previously Klopp’s preferred centre-back partner for Virgil van Dijk following an outstanding run of form which culminated in the Champions League triumph back in June.
Matip’s injury coupled with the loss of Dejan Lovren provided Gomez with the opportunity the Englishman had been craving and he now appears undroppable.
Matip recently made his return to first-team football in the FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury Town. However, the former Schalke defender looked worryingly rusty and failed to contain the threat of the League One outfit after Liverpool surrendered a two-goal lead.
With the Reds still competing on three separate fronts from now until the end of the season, Matip will still have a significant role to play in Liverpool’s pursuit of European and domestic glory.
Liverpool’s vice-captain is still recovering from a muscle injury he sustained last month in Liverpool’s 1-0 FA Cup victory over Everton.
Whilst the majority of Liverpool’s senior members opted to fly abroad and sun it up, Milner, chose to stay on Merseyside and train with the youngsters.
After Neil Critchley inspired the young Reds to a miraculous victory, the U23s manager revealed Milner asked to be in the dressing room to help and drive on the youngsters. A constant professional, the former Manchester City midfielder remains one of Klopp’s most trusted lieutenants and will be a vital figure in the defining period of the season.