When Wataru Endo could play after surprise return to Liverpool

Wataru Endo will return to Liverpool earlier than expected after Japan were eliminated from the Asian Cup. Here's when he could next play.

Japan were one of the major favourites to win the 2024 Asian Cup. Instead, they've bowed out to Iran at the quarter-final stage after conceding a 96th-minute penalty in a 2-1 defeat.

That leaves South Korea as overwhelming favourites to win the trophy - and the Japanese players heading for home.

Of course, Liverpool may welcome that news. Wataru Endo is going to return earlier than expected as at least a semi-final berth would have kept him out until next weekend.

This exit means Japan will formally release him within the next two days. That rules him out of the Arsenal fixture tomorrow - but there was never any real expectation that Liverpool would have him for that.

But Burnley next weekend? That's now a very real possibility and fans should really expect Endo to at least make the squad.

Endo was in sparkling form before heading off with his national team. The holding midfielder actually set a new standard in December, becoming the first Liverpool player in 18 years to start five games in 13 days.

He became pretty much invaluable in the role during an incredibly busy period. His importance was underlined in the data, too, as Jurgen Klopp consistently turned to Endo.

And so Liverpool will be thrilled to have him back. It will be interesting to see how he's used, though, as Alexis Mac Allister is thriving in his absence, while Thiago is getting closer and closer to a return.

The Reds have a lot of midfield options right now - arguably too many when the likes of Bobby Clark are included. But that's also what they need as Klopp attempts to deliver in four competitions over the next few months.

Having Endo back is certainly going to help in tha regard.

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