Liverpool player to make matchday squad for first time in 630 days
By North-west correspondent
Jon Flanagan will be named in the Liverpool matchday squad for the first time in nearly two years on Wednesday night.
Manager Jurgen Klopp revealed on Tuesday that the England international will finally return to the first team after his injury hell.
The full-back has been sidelined by a knee injury since his breakthrough season in 2013-14, when he established himself as a regular as Brendan Rodgers’ team nearly won the Premier League title.
Flanagan has been building up his match fitness with the Liverpool Under-21s since returning to full training last month and will now have a first run-out under Klopp in Wednesday’s FA Cup replay against Exeter at Anfield.
Klopp revealed that Flanagan is now fully fit and, barring any setbacks when the squad train on Tuesday afternoon, will be restored to the team.
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“Jon [Flanagan] is in a really good way and we are happy,” said the manager at his press conference on Tuesday. “He’s training today – if nothing happens he’s on the bench.”
It will be the 23-year-old’s first competitive appearance for Liverpool since the visit of Newcastle on the final day of the 2013/14 season.
At that time Flanagan’s outstanding form led to an England debut against Ecuador and he was on the standby list for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
However, in the following pre-season he was hampered by fluid on his left knee during the tour of America.
The Academy graduate then underwent surgery in September 2014 and another operation followed in April 2015 to repair cartilage in the joint.
Flanagan’s long rehabilitation programme is now complete and his return is a major bonus for Klopp, whose options at the back have been severely limited in recent months.
Flanagan is out of contract this summer but is keen to prove over the coming months that he merits a new deal with his boyhood club.
Meanwhile, Klopp will once again field an inexperienced side against Exeter in a repeat of the first leg at St James’ Park 10 days ago.
“It will be a similar team to last time. We will play tomorrow with a team with fresh legs,” said Klopp. “It is a big chance, we can show the young boys we believe in them.”