Contrary to initial reports that suggested an injury, Liverpool defender Kostas Tsimikas in fact decided to sit out Greece's Euro 2024 Group B qualifier against France on Tuesday to start preparations for the Reds' showdown with Manchester City early.
Tsimikas' absence from Gus Poyet's starting line-up raised eyebrows among Reds supporters, sparking concerns of yet another injury setback in the left-back position. However, the 27-year-old has since clarified his absence.
Speaking to the Liverpool FC official website, he said: "I could not play in the game against France because if I should take a yellow card, I would not play in the [play-off] games in March, which are more important than the one against France."
Instead, the defender opted to make an early return to Liverpool: "I decided to come back earlier to the team, to be with the squad, to train with the team, to be more ready."
Ready for City challenge
Understanding the tight turnaround and the significance of forthcoming fixtures, notably the impending clash against Manchester City, the Greek has decided to prioritise being ready and fit for the rigorous month ahead.
While several Reds players will return to Merseyside in midweek after long journeys away on international duty, the Greek defender will be fresh from not having played since last Friday.
"It was my decision and this is what I wanted to do because, as everybody knows, most of the time we play 12.30 after the international break and even the players who played far, they didn't come yet, they come probably one day, two days before the game," he said. "So for me, I think it was a very good chance to come earlier to be with the team and to train hard."
Rediscovering his best form
Setting his sights on maintaining that level of performance consistently, Tsimikas expressed his commitment to delivering several more impactful displays in the upcoming months.
Reflecting on his recent form, Tsimikas acknowledged, "Before Brentford, I was not in the best condition of myself. I try to find my best moments, I try to fight back, to be the player I was before, to make assists, to run, to defend, to do everything on the pitch."
Expressing satisfaction with his return against Brentford, he emphasised the need to maintain that momentum, adding, "I have to keep going with the same passion."
With a clear determination to make valuable contributions, Tsimikas could be a key asset for the team during a frantic month that will see the Reds play ten times.