Jurgen Klopp provided us with a brief estimation of when we can expect to see Xherdan Shaqiri back in contention for minutes but it remains to be seen how he will be utilised for the remainder of the campaign.
“I’m not sure about Hendo, and Shaq not yet, but they are all coming closer”, the German manager revealed in his Friday afternoon press conference.
Shaqiri is certain to miss this evening’s clash against Watford and will likely be absent from the FA Cup clash against Chelsea in midweek.
The Switzerland international hasn’t featured for Liverpool since January following a calf problem and has clocked up just 256 minutes worth of action all season.
This raises the question of what Shaqiri has to do when he returns to force his way back into Jurgen Klopp’s plans until the end of the season.
Shaqiri has proven himself as an impact player and despite his limited action on the pitch has been a reliable figure when called upon by his manager. His first start of the season came against Everton when Klopp was initially ridiculed for making wholesale changes in such a big match which in the end proved to be a stroke of managerial brilliance.
Liverpool and Shaqiri delivered an Anfield masterclass to put their Merseyside rivals to the sword with the former Bayern Munich star opening his account for the season following an acute finish past Jordan Pickford.
Shaqiri also provides Klopp with an alternate formation if he chooses to use a more attacking system. In the previous meeting with Watford in December, Klopp utilised the 4-2-3-1 system he used on several occasions last season with Shaqiri deployed in the heart of Liverpool’s attacking trident.
However, if he is to force his way back into proceedings – similarly to Everton – he will have to grasp the opportunity as soon as it arises.
Liverpool are still competing in three competitions meaning the bulk of Klopp’s squad will all be called upon to ease the strain on his regular starters. Shaqiri was in a similar predicament last season following a lack of game time but found himself in the starting line-up for Liverpool’s miraculous comeback victory against Barcelona.
With injuries and rotation all playing a factor in Klopp’s thinking, the reality has been he tends to base his selection process on momentum. Shaqiri currently lacks this in abundance and will need to take his opportunity as soon as it materialises if he is to have any impact from now until the end of the season.