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News24.com | Liverpool handed fitness boost as Jota returns to training

Diogo Jota (Getty Images)

Diogo Jota (Getty Images)

Liverpool received a much-needed boost with
the return to full training of Diogo Jota for the first time since December.

And the Portugal international’s
re-integration with the full squad after 11 weeks out with a knee problem was
watched by defender Virgil Van Dijk, who was seen doing an individual outdoor
session for the first time since his ACL injury in October.

Jota’s availability cannot come soon enough
for Jurgen Klopp’s side who have won just two of their last 11 league matches
in which they have scored just nine times, six of which came in back-to-back
victories at Tottenham and West Ham in late January.

The £41million September signing from
Wolves had scored eight goals in his last 11 matches before being sidelined
after playing in their Champions League dead rubber against Midtjylland on
December 9.

Jota was pictured with his team-mates at
the training ground on Wednesday, with Van Dijk also making an appearance
outdoors away from the main group.

The Holland captain, whose early
rehabilitation following surgery was in Dubai, was seen doing some work with a
speed ladder and some minor exercises with the ball.

Klopp said at the start of the month he did
not expect the Dutchman to play again this season – much like fellow
centre-backs Joe Gomez (knee) and Joel Matip (ankle) – and the PA news agency
understands this remains the case despite the defender’s first appearance
outdoors, which is just a normal part of his rehab.

Of more concern to the Red boss, who is
still awaiting news of the extent of Jordan Henderson’s groin problem amid
speculation suggestion he could be absent for 12 weeks, was the continued
absence of Fabinho.

The Brazil midfielder has provided cover in
central defence for most of the season but has missed the last three matches
after aggravating a muscle problem against Manchester City at the start of the
month and has so far only been seen doing indoor gym work.

That makes it unlikely he will be available
for Sunday’s trip to bottom side Sheffield United, which Liverpool have to win
to get their bid for the top-four back on track.

However, forward Sadio Mane admits the
priority is now the Champions League, in which they hold a 2-0 first-leg lead
over RB Leipzig.

“Our target from the beginning was the
Champions League, the Premier League and also cup games,” he told ESPN
Brazil.

“And now, I can say it’s over for the
Premier League…it’s too much.

“In our head, our self-belief, it’s
always ‘never give up’, and we won’t give up, but for sure, Manchester City are
a good team and they’re flying.

“Beyond the top four is now, right
now, our main target. But the Champions League, that is our main, main, main
target. To win it, not be second, but it won’t be easy.

“You’re going to face the best teams
in Europe, but we’re here to beat the best in the world.

“We’ll do everything possible to go
forward and win the Champions League.”

– TEAMtalk media

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