After their successful end to last season, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to see his side make a positive start to the new campaign.
The new year begins with the Community Shield clash with Man City on August 4, while the first Premier League game of the season sees them host Norwich City at Anfield five days later.
Their pre-season preparations have been disrupted to an extent though, with several key players seeing their summer break cut short by international commitments.
Both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have featured in the Africa Cup of Nations, with the latter making it through to Friday’s final, while Alisson and Roberto Firmino were part of the Brazil squad which won the Copa America earlier this month.
Naturally, all four will be given an extended break to regroup and recover ahead of returning to training, and while Klopp has confirmed when he expects three of the four names above to return, he still isn’t sure on the best approach with Mane given there is such a short break for him between games.
“Mo and the Brazilians will come for Evian [training camp in France],” Klopp told the club’s website, as quoted by Sky Sports. “It means then we have nearly a week until City [in the Community Shield], a strong 12 days until Norwich and then 15 or 16 days until Chelsea [in the Super Cup].
“I would have preferred it if they had come back after a week, but that would make absolutely no sense! So, [they have] these three weeks and then we will have them here for pre-season.
“With Sadio, we have to see about him after the final – how he is feeling and stuff like that.
“It will be really difficult. Sixteen days before we play City, his season is finished. We will have to make a decision, but we haven’t made it yet.”
While making a fast start to the season will be crucial, especially in the Premier League title race given how close it was last year, Klopp won’t want to jeopardise their ability to compete on multiple fronts in the long-term by risking an injury to one of his key quartet.
In turn, he’ll likely make a decision in conjunction with the medical staff to see who’s ready to play and who perhaps needs more time, but they’ll certainly be buoyed by the mere presence of their star men when they join up with the rest of the squad to give them a helping hand.