Per The Mirror, Liverpool fans are getting excited on Twitter over the impending return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, so where will the midfielder fit in Jurgen Klopp’s title-chasing side following his long injury absence?
With no FA Cup fixture to play this weekend due to the defeat at Wolves, Klopp and the Reds are taking advantage of their extended break, flying off to Dubai for a warm weather training camp – as documented by The Daily Mail.
The league leaders scraped past Crystal Palace on Saturday, and now have a week and a half off before they welcome Leicester City to Anfield next Wednesday evening.
And there is good news, as Oxlade-Chamberlain has undergone some pretty rigorous training, according to The Mirror.
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Well, just because the 25 year-old is with the squad does not mean he is in full training, and he is not expected to be ready until late February at the earliest – according to The Times’ Paul Joyce.
Klopp on Oxlade-Chamberlain: It is the best news. No pressure on him but maybe February back in normal training. Possibly March.
— paul joyce (@_pauljoyce) December 28, 2018
However, it means the Anfield fan favourite is clearly on the right path, and will likely return to first team action at some point this season.
But a serious knee injury can have devastating effects on a player’s speed, quickness and agility, so expect to see him participating in several training matches and potentially even Under-23 matches before stepping onto the Anfield turf once again.
When Oxlade-Chamberlain does return, Klopp is suddenly going to have one mighty selection headache on his hands, so where does the ex-Arsenal man fit in?
Fabinho quite simply can’t be dropped on current form, as the Brazil international has been superb in multiple positions since breaking into the side, and Georginio Wijnaldum is quietly having the best season of his career.
This leaves just one spot to fight for between Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Naby Keita and the returning Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the latter looks a perfect fit for that final place.
Wijnaldum and Fabinho offer loads of defensive protection but limited attacking output, practically ruling out Liverpool’s captain and vice-captain as complimentary options, and summer signing Keita deserves to drop even further down the pecking order based on this season’s poor form.
While he shares many traits with Oxlade-Chamberlain that also make him a good fit for the third slot in Liverpool’s engine room, the former Leipzig man simply hasn’t acclimatised to the Premier League as well as expected.
If Oxlade-Chamberlain can regain full fitness before the end of this season, the England international should be first choice alongside Fabinho and Wijnaldum, offering Klopp the perfect balance of speed, creativity, work-rate and defensive awareness.
So, Liverpool fans, what would be your preferred midfield when Oxlade-Chamberlain returns? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…