Liverpool are set to welcome back Joel Matip when they continue their pre-season campaign with a trip to face Bury on Saturday.
A clash with the League One side could stage the defender’s first appearance for the Reds since suffering a thigh injury in a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on the final day of March.
Matip’s absence over the final weeks of the season required a monumental effort from Liverpool’s depleted centre-back cohort as the team juggled an extended Champions League run with an intense battle for a top-four finish.
His premature end capped off a mixed individual season for Matip, who struggled to replicate the promising form he had displayed following his arrival in 2016.
Matip is now in the squad to face Bury after returning to full training, the club has confirmed on Liverpoolfc.com.
Virgil van Dijk will also make his first pre-season appearance having been granted an extended summer break following his inclusion in a friendly with the Netherlands at the end of the 2017/2018 campaign.
Liverpool will be without Georginio Wijnaldum, due to a minor knock, and Danny Ings, who is suffering from severe blisters.
For Matip, pre-season is a valuable chance to stake a new claim for a starting spot alongside Van Dijk come opening weekend.
Dejan Lovren’s involvement in the World Cup final could see him miss Liverpool’s first few games, putting the onus on Matip to prove himself as a viable alternative.
Klopp will be seeking a return of the grace and composure on the ball and aerial supremacy that Matip showcased as part of an encouraging partnership with Lovren during stages of his debut season.
Having built a blossoming reputation early on as a bargain acquisition , it will be interesting to how he fares alongside a Van Dijk that has evidently aided Lovren’s rise to form.