Jurgen Klopp is adamant that his decision to slowly ease Jordan Henderson into the new season will prove decisive for Liverpool as they gear up for a tough run of fixtures.
The Reds captain has yet to start from the off since the 2018/19 campaign got underway having been handed an extended break following his World Cup exploits, leaving many to question his role in the side going forward after being provided extra competition by the likes of Naby Keita and Fabinho.
However, Klopp moved to address the speculation over Henderson's position in the team as he stressed how important he is to what Liverpool are hoping to achieve this season.
“Of course it is difficult for him as captain, but Hendo is such an important player to us and he knows that. We had talks about that,” Klopp said, via the Liverpool Echo.
“Especially with his style of play and how he puts everything on the pitch, you need to be in a really good shape physically.
Would really like to see Henderson back in too for Leicester. Knowing our fixture list coming in Sept-Oct it’s great that we have so many options in the middle. After the intl break is the right time to bring in Fabinho and Shaqiri to the first XI I think, great options to have.— James Nicholson (@JMSNCHLSN) August 31, 2018
“And he had these moments during the weeks, not this week, but the weeks before when you saw it is quite intense. You have to do that [the intense training] when you can. We could do it.
“Hendo was the last one to come back, okay Dejan [Lovren] was but he's not been fit. Now Hendo has had four weeks. It will be six weeks by the time we play Tottenham. He's not in doubt and I am not in doubt about his role so he has dealt with it [not starting] well.”
The conundrum on Klopp's hands ahead of Liverpool's trip to Leicester on Saturday is whether to stick with his in form trio of Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Keita or introduce his skipper to the mix.
When asked whether Henderson's absence was due to a need for an extended pre season or the form of his teammates, Klopp added: “It is of course both.
"If he played completely, I don't know what kind of game in the first game, and you think 'wow' then we think immediately about a change.
“But if the performance of the team allows you the opportunity to bring other players in their best possible physical situation then you should use it and that's what we did.”
Liverpool's first two weeks back in action following the international break see the Reds encounter Tottenham, Southampton, a league and cup double with Chelsea and a Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain.
"When we play Saturday-Saturday we have the chance to train harder and do more work in the week. We do a lot more than we can do from September onwards when we play every three days so it has an effect," Klopp added.
“For September, we need to have a look at it because of the number of games we have and the intensity of the games.”