Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has tipped Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to return to full training in February after making a quicker-than-expected recovery from a serious knee injury.
Oxlade-Chamberlain sustained multiple ligament damage during a Champions League clash with Roma at Anfield in April and underwent surgery soon after.
The England midfielder was expected to miss the vast majority of the 2018-19 campaign but has shown promising early signs since returning to a lighter schedule of training.
"Sometimes when a player is coming back from an injury and they start running, they're not really limping but it's not quite the picture you had in your mind," Klopp told a news conference.
"With Ox, from the first step he looked like Ox and that was really nice.
"We were waiting for a reaction and there was no reaction, which is even nicer.
"No pressure on him but it looks like he may be back in normal training in late February or March. That gives us hope he will be back this season.
"That's at the moment. We are usually not that excited about something like this and a lot of things can happen after being out for that long, but it looks so positive and it's nice to have him around with a smile on his face again.
"He's obviously happy and we're happy about the improvement."
All in good time
Klopp then reiterated that he did not want to rush the 25-year-old's return, saying: "It's a surprise. If anybody from the medical department is listening to what I've said they'll probably have a breakdown.
"I didn't want to put any pressure but that's how it looks. It looks really good.
"It needs time and each little muscle needs to adapt to the intensity but what he did so far looked like...if you look at him in the little sessions outside he looks like he can play tomorrow!
"It's of course not possible and there's a long time to go but it's so nice after a long injury to have this boy around.
"It excites all of us. It's a boost for the whole dressing room because he's such an important part of the side.
"If he makes further steps like he did in the last few weeks then he can play Premier League football this season, which is nice to know."
Klopp added that James Milner (hamstring) will not be available for Saturday's clash with Arsenal but could be in contention to face Manchester City on January 3.
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