(Reuters) – Liverpool’s Naby Keita is recovering faster than expected from a thigh injury and will be given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of next week’s Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur, manager Juergen Klopp said.
Guinea midfielder Keita sustained an adductor injury in Liverpool’s 3-0 semi-final first leg defeat at Barcelona this month and was ruled out for two months, meaning he would likely miss the African Cup of Nations in June.
However, Klopp said that the 24-year-old was making steady progress in Liverpool’s training camp in Marbella despite having only a slim chance of being ready for the Champions League final in Madrid on June 1.
“Naby is… a bit ahead of schedule, but that doesn’t mean anything for the final. He’s now doing straight runs… he feels comfortable with 50% intensity… but there’s still a way to go,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website https://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/first-team/351354-jurgen-klopp-naby-keita-roberto-firmino-injury-update.
“I know about issues with Guinea… we don’t want to keep a player out if he can play — maybe they think it’s like this, but it’s not like this.
“If he’s not 100% fit, he cannot play. That’s how it is. It’s not important whether you play for your country or your club. That’s what we try to make sure. It looks good, very positive and we’ll see if there is a chance.”
Brazil forward Roberto Firmino, who returned to training on Tuesday following a muscle strain, is also stepping up his recovery with staggered sessions.
“Bobby looks really good, he’s now part of training. It wasn’t too long out, but of course we’re still careful and want to make sure nothing happens,” Klopp added.
“We have a few days still and want to use them, that’s why he’s in, out, in, out. Yesterday, he was only playing as a joker (in the small-sided games) but it’s good for him, the first step to play football again.
“Today he was in around 70% of the session. Tomorrow he’ll probably be in completely, we’ll see, then hopefully it’ll be fine.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)