Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes the international break will have helped rejuvenate Mohamed Salah after he was spared from playing matches with Egypt.
The forward, who enjoyed a remarkable 44-goal maiden season for the Reds, is without a goal in his last seven matches – his longest drought for the club.
However, Salah has found the net three times in his last three league appearances against Sunday’s visitors Tottenham, and a fortnight without football may well be just the thing to kick-start the 26-year-old into life with seven games to go in the title race.
Asked whether the Egyptian had benefited from not having to travel for the matches against Niger and Nigeria, Klopp said: “Oh, 100 per cent.
“Of course if you can gain freshness in that time then that’s clear.
“The boys never had a day off, actually. They always trained, but individually and not at the highest intensity, so that helps of course. Not only for Mo, for the others as well. All good.”
Klopp virtually has a fully-fit squad to call upon, although the likes of long-term absentees Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will have to wait a few weeks to be considered for a matchday having only just returned to first-team training.
Gomez is probably closest after finally recovering from a broken leg sustained in early December but it is the presence of Oxlade-Chamberlain, out for a year with a serious knee injury, which has been most anticipated.
“Not because it’s not exciting, but because then the spotlight was on the under-23 game at Derby, which is pretty rare.
I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was being so excited about having Ox backJurgen Klopp
Even Klopp admits he was relishing the prospect of the England international’s return but, after the 25-year-old suffered a minor setback with a hamstring issue in his first competitive action playing for the under-23s earlier this month, the Reds boss is being more circumspect.
“How can I say this? I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was being so excited about having Ox back,” he added.
“I’m pretty sure Ox felt a little bit after the last session with us, and then he played the game and felt a little bit more, and everybody was looking at him.”
“So now we keep him a little bit more in the shadows, he’s in a pretty good moment, he will train, and when he is back and ready to be properly involved again, then I will inform you. Until then I will not speak about him.”
Liverpool have lost just one of their last 24 league meetings at Anfield against Tottenham and realistically will have to continue that run if they are to maintain pace with Manchester City, who play Fulham more than 24 hours before the Reds take the field.