Liverpool’s Gini Wijnaldum and Xherdan Shaqiri sat out an Anfield practice match as training steps up ahead of the Premier League return.
With the season set to resume on June 17, the 20 top-flight sides are preparing to be fit and ready for the delayed end to the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have suffered an agonising wait to see if they would be able to complete their remarkable march towards the league title, and all being well the 2019/20 season should be played to completion – albeit behind closed doors.
As teams return to some form of normality – with the re-introduction of contact training – the hope for all managers and players will be that everyone remains fit for the first game back. As a means to approach match fitness, Liverpool’s squad played out a practice match at their iconic home ground, with Wijnaldum and Shaqiri sitting out.
The club’s website explained that the Dutch midfielder watched on from the stands as a purely precautionary measure, while Shaqiri’s absence went uncommented upon.
The Swiss international has been on the fringes of the first-team since his arrival in 2018, and has been linked with a move away from the club following his lack of game time.
As for Wijnaldum, the former PSV and Newcastle midfield has been a vital part of Klopp’s swashbuckling side, and played a key role in the club’s remarkable comeback against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final last season.
With the 29-year-old such an important asset, it is no surprise that Klopp and his medical staff are taking no risks over any potential knocks/injuries.
The practice match itself saw Sadio Mané and Naby Kieta on target, with assistant coach
Pepijn Lijnders discussing the importance of such a session, saying: “We wanted to give the players the feeling of playing and competing without a crowd.
“We are just going step by step back to our way of playing, knowing that we have to work hard in training and be really committed to our principles to reach the same level that we had.”
Lijnders added: “[It] was an important step in that direction; firstly getting familiar with the process around the games and secondly giving our squad playing time and competition very close to the environment that we will have in the future.”