Jurgen Klopp excited to welcome back 'super-influential' Liverpool star

Jurgen Klopp is pleased to welcome the "super-influential" Wataru Endo back to the Liverpool team ahead of the weekend clash with Burnley.

The midfielder, who turned 31 today, hasn't featured for the Reds since the 4-2 victory over Newcastle United on New Year's Day after jetting off to the Asian Cup with Japan.

While Wataru Endo performed admirably at the tournament, even registering a goal and an assist from defensive midfield, Japan were knocked out of the competition at the quarter-final stage after a late defeat to Iran.

The former Stuttgart man has since returned to Merseyside and has been back in training with the Liverpool squad this week.

As a result, Endo is available for selection against the Clarets on Saturday afternoon, with Klopp excited for the midfielder's return.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp was asked how important Endo's return was, to which he replied: "Very [important]. Yeah, from that point of view, it might have been the wrong point [for him to go to the Asian Cup], besides that we came through that period without him pretty well. That was pretty impressive.

"Wataru before he left was really super-influential on the pitch. He gave us the opportunity in a lot of moments to really involve and use a lot of offensive players around that because his protection was just exceptional.

Liverpool FC v LASK: Group E - UEFA Europa League 2023/24 Moses Usor of LASK and Wataru Endo, of Liverpool challenge during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 match between Liverpool FC and LASK at Anfield on November 30, 2023 in Liverpool, England. Liverpool Anfield England United Kingdom PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xRichardxSellers/Sportsphoto/APLx 13962383

"But the playing side of the game as well. It’s his birthday today, [he] turns 31. [He] looks good since he is back, so he’s very important. How I said, with all the problems we have in the moment with players, it’s super important.

"Obviously Mo [Salah] is not back as well and that means we really need every player. I’m not sure if it was two or three weeks ago when we sat here and we were talking about the luxury problem of lining up players. If anybody asks me that question again, I will kick them out of the room!

"Always when we talk once, 'What are you doing with that?' And a week later we have a completely different situation that's exactly what we have now."

Endo's absence wasn't felt too sorely by Liverpool, but with Thiago, Dominik Szoboszlai and Stefan Bajcetic currently injured in the engine room, his return is timely.

The summer signing could find his way straight back into the starting lineup against struggling Burnley as Liverpool look to maintain their lead at the top of the table, with Alexis Mac Allister potentially moving further forward.

When asked about the Argentine playing in a more advanced role, Klopp said: "Yes he can, but he did extremely well in the six as well, so we will see how we sort that.

"It’s good. Like I said, we need them all, and, of course, Macca and Wataru can play together as well. There is no doubt about that. They all can play together, it's not a problem, we just have to try to make sure that we bring them in at the right moment together. So, let’s see."

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