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'I can see a difference' - Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool are stronger after their two-week break as Sadio Mane returns


Sadio Mane is back for Liverpool

Sadio Mane is back for Liverpool

PA Wire/PA Images

Sadio Mane is back for Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp believes his side are ready to come back stronger after their two-week mid-season break, as he confirmed striker Sadio Mane is ready to return in Saturday's game at Norwich.

Liverpool take on the Canaries in the Premier League on Saturday evening before a Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid next Tuesday, with Klopp suggesting his decision to rest his entire first team line-up from the FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury will now reap rewards.

A youthful Liverpool team made it through to the fifth round of the Cup with a fine win against their League One opponents and Klopp suggests the break has ensured his players are fresh heading into the final weeks of the season.

"I can see a difference in training, but it is not about seeing a difference in the Norwich game or whatever, it is about using this time," said Klopp.

"Some teams used it for a warm-weather camp and stuff like this. We sent the players all over the world, we wanted them to really rest and then we had a week of full training.

"Rest is only one word, it's recovery, it's recharging and that's why we wanted it. That's why we fought for it, we made some decisions around it and now the boys are back.

"We train completely normal. You don't lose a lot in a week, but you can gain a lot and that's why it's so important. As I said, this specific thing is not about the Norwich game, it's about the rest of the season and we will see."

Mane's return is a huge boost to Liverpool, as the striker has recovered from a hamstring injury he sustained in the win at Wolves last month and Klopp suggests his players are ready to go through the pain barrier in a bid to ensure what has already been a remarkable season ends on a high note.

"I was a player myself and when I look back it feels like I played 80 per cent of the time through pain," he stated. "Nobody appreciated that because I still played bad! It didn't help, nobody asked then.

"It's completely normal for a professional football player that you have to play through pain, that's how it is.

"I said it last year, when Hendo (Jordan Henderson) got a knock in the Barcelona home game and it looked like it could be maybe not possible to carry on, at half-time I looked at him and he said, 'it's only pain'. These are the words we use most of the time: it's only pain. It's not an injury but it's still pain, it distracts you and disturbs you and all that stuff.

"After that long period, after December and January, there was no player in the squad who had not any pain somewhere. Everybody had something to recover from."

Klopp also saluted the achievements of the club's under-23 coach Neil Critchley after he guided a young side to a 1-0 win over Shrewbury that set up an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

"Absolutely great. I'm really happy for the boys," added Klopp. "I spoke to them now obviously and they all enjoyed it like crazy, they loved it.

"It was absolutely sensational what our crowd made of this game. Creating that atmosphere just shows what a wonderful club we are. I loved it. It was really great.

"I expected us to play a good game, to be honest, and the boys did. The goal was a bit strange maybe but if there was a team who deserved to win in that game, then it was us. So that was really cool. Sensational job by all the boys and Critch, of course."

Online Editors