Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to make his long-awaited comeback for the club’s under-23s against Derby County on Friday.
The Reds had considered giving the England international a run out in Monday night’s Premier 2 derby with Everton at Anfield.
However, Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been sidelined for 11 months with a serious knee injury, is likely to be held back for the clash with the Rams which takes place at the Championship outfit’s training ground at 2pm on Friday.
Jurgen Klopp is keen for him to get some game-time under his belt for Neil Critchley’s side in order to build up his match fitness before considering him for a first-team return.
The £40million midfielder has made impressive progress since returning to full training in February.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s commitment to his rehabilitation programme has ensured he’s regained fitness well ahead of schedule. Liverpool had previously feared that he would miss the entire 2018/19 campaign.
Speaking about Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fitness last week, Klopp said: “He trains fully but not as much as the others. Then he leaves a bit early to do something else and the things he needs.
“Everyone is always looking for a reaction but nothing has happened yet. We have to prepare him for his entire career, not just one particular game. When he’s in training it looks very nice.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been sidelined since he ruptured knee ligaments in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Roma at Anfield last April.
His return will be a massive boost for the Reds during the Premier League title run-in with Klopp’s side in need of an injection of creativity from midfield.
Liverpool Under-23s boast a 13-game unbeaten run going into tonight’s showdown with Everton at Anfield which kicks off at 7pm.
“Any time you get the opportunity to play at Anfield there’s a special buzz around the players,” Critchley said.
“It’s one we’re really looking forward to both as staff and players. It’s a special venue. We want to put on a good show for the supporters there.”
Liverpool season ticket holders and members can gain admission free of charge but must secure their ticket in advance. Tickets priced £3 for adults and £1 for concessions are available from the ticket office at Anfield until 5pm on Monday. There will be no walk-up sales on the night.