“Don’t Want To Cut Any Corners” – Injury Expert On Liverpool Duo Including ‘Very Smart’ Gem

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By Lewis Thompson

Thiago Alcantara last appeared for Liverpool at the end of April this year when he replaced Jordan Henderson in a 2-1 win against West Ham.

Since his cameo at the London Stadium, not only has Henderson gone on to play football in Saudi Arabia under Steven Gerrard, but Jurgen Klopp’s midfield has also undergone radical changes.

The 32-year-old has undergone surgery, and got back fit, before suffering another injury again while summer signings Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo have all been introduced to the side.

But the No. 6 has played a crucial part for the Reds since his arrival in 2020 with the Spaniard just three appearances away from matching the 100 he made at Barcelona.

On Tuesday, he returned to the AXA Training Centre in what was his first involvement with the squad since August and Klopp told reporters he expects his return at the start of the New Year.

It’s no wonder that when speaking to Dan Clubbe on The Redmen TV, Ben Dinnery said it would be ‘foolhardy’ to expect Thiago to play consistent football on his return when he’s being brought into a brand new environment and a completely different play style.

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Ben Dinnery is the founder of Premier Injuries, a website used to record and track injuries for the Premier League.

Ben provides statistical insight and data to some of the world’s leading organisations and spoke on the returning Thiago and Stefan Bajcetic.

He said: “Thiago was a one-in-two player for Liverpool in terms of his Premier League minutes played.

“That mirrors exactly what happened at Bayern Munich and Barcelona and it would be foolhardy to expect Thiago to all of a sudden start playing 80/90% of games when he hasn’t done previously in his career at any of those clubs.

“There was nothing to suggest that all of a sudden you were going to have this really robust player who can handle the rigours of the premier league, especially when he’s coming into this brand new environment and a completely different style of play.

“We’ve heard with Thiago, he’s coming back in the summer and then it was September, October, and now in the New Year and this is because as you gradually go through those protocols and that rehab, as you increase the load, sometimes the body responds in different ways and reacts.

“Once you have a reaction sometimes you need to take a step back, and that step back might be a week or two weeks and then we start again and work through the previous protocols to get back to the required level.”

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As Ben pointed out, Liverpool – like every Premier League club – has a duty of care to look after players in an age when the footballing calendar has never been more hectic.

Especially when it comes to players like 19-year-old Bajcetic, who has an exciting career ahead of him that could potentially span another 15 years.

The other Spanish player currently missing in Liverpool’s midfield also played a vital part last season, making 19 appearances across all competitions before his season was cut short by an injury in March.

Ben said: “Liverpool want to make sure that when he does return, he stays fit and healthy, so when he reaches that potential he’s able to play pain-free.

“It’s about managing that load and with both him and Alcantara, it’s that stress response and additional loading through training which has maybe impacted on those return to playing timelines.

“With Bajcetic being such a young player, you want to make sure that the player is right, you don’t want to cut any corners or take any risk because you’re looking after his future career.”

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Ultimately whilst the sightings of Thiago have been all too few and far between, his displays when out on the pitch can be nothing short of spectacular and getting a tune out of the Spaniard from January onwards would be a huge boost to Klopp’s squad. 

For Bajcetic, having made a lightning-fast start to life as a first-team regular at Anfield it’s imperative The Reds get the starlet – who was once hailed as ‘very smart’ by the boss – back and available in order to get back on track for his development. 

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