Amid an injury crisis, Liverpool have been handed a timely boost in their battle for the Premier League title with forward Diogo Jota set to return. The 27-year-old missed eight matches due to a muscle injury but made a remarkable comeback on Tuesday, coming off the bench and scoring in the 90th minute to send Liverpool to the top of the league with a 2-0 win at Burnley. And Klopp believes the former Wolves man could now be ready to feature from the start against Newcastle on Sunday.
The news is a massive boost for Klopp, given he has several injuries in his squad, with Kostas Tsimikas (collarbone), Andy Robertson (shoulder), and Joel Matip (knee) all out long-term. That leaves a void at left-back and a general lack of defensive depth for the Reds, who have only scored three times in their last six home games. Joe Gomez is expected to deputize on the flank, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luke Chambers available as backup options.
Despite the injury concerns, Klopp has plenty of attacking options, with Luis Suarez set to be fit to play after being sidelined for two months with a knee injury. The manager said he is unlikely to dip into the transfer market for reinforcements ahead of the visit of Newcastle, who are currently in seventh place in the table.
Jota, who has not played since injuring his calf against Manchester City in December, was in excellent shape before the injury, and Klopp believes the player is back at full fitness. The Liverpool boss said: ‘Jota was in incredible shape, he has a lot to offer. ‘He can make a difference in our team. He’s a great footballer, good on the ball, good in our system, and can also score goals.’
During the win at Burnley, Jota was praised for his ability to get into the correct position to capitalize on the visitors’ poor defensive work. That skill will be invaluable as the Reds prepare to face a Newcastle side that has only managed five clean sheets in their first 15 league matches.
Jota’s return is a big boost for the club, with Mohamed Salah preparing to leave on Monday for Africa Cup of Nations duty with Egypt. The Egyptian has been Liverpool’s leading goal scorer, but Jota’s return could help them find their form ahead of goal with a hectic fixture schedule over the festive period. The Merseysiders will next face Arsenal in a New Year’s Day encounter at Anfield before taking on Manchester City and Burnley before the trip to Newcastle. Klopp has a strong squad at his disposal but will have to manage the injured players to keep up the pace with the top four.